The deputy head of the World Uighur Congress, Seyit Tumturk, thanked Turkey on Wednesday following the reception of 173 Uighur Turks into the country.
The 173 Uighurs, mostly women and children, were brought to Turkey on June 30 from Thailand where they were being held in camps after fleeing China. They were among a group of about 250 Uighurs.
He said that he hopes the other refugees would also be allowed to leave Thailand.
The Uighurs were resettled in the central Turkish city of Kayseri, which already has is a strong Uighur community.
This week, Turkey expressed its ‘’deep’’ concerns to China about violation of Uighurs’ religious rights via the Chinese ambassador to Ankara.
‘’It has been publicly heard with sorrow that there are reports of the fasting and fulfilling of religious duties by Uighur Turks being banned,’’ said the Turkish Foreign Ministry in a statement.
China’s Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Hua Chunying said on Wednesday that Beijing noted Turkey’s concerns and attaches great importance to its developing relations with Turkey.
‘’All ethnic groups in China are entitled to the freedom of religious belief under Chinese constitution,’’ she said through a translator.
She also said China hopes to work with the Turkish side to maintain the smooth development of bilateral relations.
Meanwhile, hundreds of Turkish people across the country demonstrated for a second day against China’s alleged bans over Uighur muslims and demanded China to stop the discrimination against its Muslim population.
Xinjiang autonomous region, which is called “East Turkestan” by Uighurs themselves, consists of nearly 45 percent of Turkic-Muslim Uighurs while ethnically Han Chinese makes up almost 40 percent of the region’s total population.
Hundreds of people have been reportedly killed during the unrests in Xinjiang in the past several years, where China's repressive policies, including controls on religion and Uighur culture, have been intensified by China’s party-government.
The Xinjiang’s local government has been monitoring religious education activities like Quran teaching for children and controlling mosque attendance in the regional cities such as Urumqi, Kashgar and Turpan.
The communist party has recently ordered Uighurs to stock and sell alcohol and cigarettes in attractive displays, despite the fact that many Muslims consider it a sin to sell alcohol for religious reasons.
The Chinese constitution asserts that ethnic and religious minorities in the People’s Republic would be equal before the law, but in China has long been criticised by the rights groups and international organizations for its human rights violations regarding the ethnic and religious freedom.
Human rights groups, including the Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, have frequently reported that Beijing is prohibiting religious freedom and ethnic liberties as well as basic human rights in ethno-religious minority regions.