Foreign Affairs Ministry Spokesman Tanju Bilgic disproved the damaging acts carried out against Chinese tourists and some diplomatic representative offices that surfaced in Turkey upon the claims of ethnic Uighurs in China suffering from religious discrimination.
Bilgic said in a press briefing that he regrets the incidents which included damaging offices and burning flags, and noted, “It is believed that such behaviors have no benefits for anyone.”
Reminding the recent attack on honorary consul of Thailand in Turkey, Bilgic said “We have the responsibility to ensure the safety of foreign missions in Turkey in line with international law. We have taken every measure in this scope. It is our common responsibility to protect the lives and property of tourists.”
On Thursday, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan also advised the Turkish public to disregard provocations and the exploitation of the Uighur issue.
The claims regarding Uighurs living in China said that the Chinese government banned fasting during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan and implemented restrictions on their religious practices, stirred an angry public reaction in Turkey.
In addition to the claims, the decision of Thailand to extradite 115 Uighurs to China after they were rescued from a human smuggling camp in 2014 intensified the outrage of the public which caused an attack on the office of Thailand’s honorary consul.
Turkey has strong cultural ties with the Uighurs living in the Xinjiang autonomous region of China, which is locally called “East Turkestan” by the Uighurs themselves, consists of nearly 45 percent Turkic-Muslim Uighurs while ethnically Han Chinese make up almost 40 percent of the region’s total population.
The US State Department’s 2014 report shed light on China’s human rights abuses, which have been reportedly been increasing both in Tibet and Xinjiang.
The Uighurs are subjected to discrimination in many respects including being prevented from practising their faith openly, the banning of beards and headscarves, and being prevented from teaching their children the Quran. Officials and people younger than 18 are banned from participating in religious activities.