China Rejects Turkey’s Uighur Criticism While Denying Poet’s Death


Chinese officials are under fire due to claims from Turkey saying Uighur poet, Abdurehim Heyit, was killed under their custody. Turkey has long criticized China for its treatment of the Uighurs living in Xinjiang, though the Chinese have been quick to dispute their criticisms. Last Sunday, a video was released by Chinese officials showing a Uighur man saying he is alive and well, claiming to be Heyit. In the video, the man states the date and says, “I am in the process of being investigated for allegedly violating the national laws. I’m now in good health and have never been abused.” Turkish officials remain critical, hesitant to believe the video and Chinese statements. Despite the clip, Turkey has continued to pressure China to be open with their treatment of the Uighur people in hopes to improve their conditions.

Minimal conflict has occurred in recent years in western China among religious groups considering large migration of Chinese to the Xinjiang region. The influx of Chinese migrants is proving to cause a cultural and religious clash. This unrest has pushed the Chinese government to build camps in order to enact their “signification” campaign to rid China of religious practices, predominantly those of Muslims.  These camps were established in 2014 and, according to a UN committee, have since brought up to one million Uighur people. Hami Aksoy, a spokesman for the Turkish Foreign Ministry, states, “It is no longer a secret that more than one million Uighur Turks incurring arbitrary arrests are subjected to torture and political brainwashing in internment camps and prisons”. Uighur people undergo psychological programs in order to pursue Chinese signification agendas, pushing communist propaganda along with anti-Muslim teachings and practices.

The Uighur treatment has developed into a mass human rights issue, one that should be acknowledged not just by countries with ties to the Uighurs. Turkey shining the spotlight on China and pushing them to address their treatment of the Uighur people is crucial moving forward. Due to China’s power and status globally, it will take outside pressure in order to work towards the abolishment of the camps of Uighur people. Abduweli Ayup,  a U.S.-educated linguist and a member of the Uighur community in Istanbul, encourages other Muslim countries to act. When asked why Turkey has decided to just recently speak up about Uighurs he states, “Some say it’s because Turkey couldn’t get what it wanted from China…Whatever it was, it’s a good start and it’s a good sign for us. ” Countries that carry a majority Muslim population have historically been quick to act on the ill treatment of Muslims in other countries, yet have become silent in the face of this Uighur tragedy in China. Due to China’s position as a global super power, they remain hesitant to speak up.

As Ayup calls to action other Muslim countries he offers an optimistic perspective for this grim issue. A change will involve the pressure and involvement of many countries, along with the watchful eye of media. As global awareness and insistence on this subject grow, the Chinese government will no longer be able to propogate the mistreatment of the Uighur people.