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Tags: turkey | uyghur | oppression | citizenship | recep tayyip erdogan

Turkey Appeases China, Denies Uyghur Citizenship Applications

Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks to the press
President of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan makes a statement after the cabinet meeting with the agenda of Russia and Ukraine in Ankara, Turkey, on Feb. 28. (Presidential Press Office/Getty Images)

By    |   Tuesday, 01 March 2022 09:42 AM EST

Turkey has denied citizenship applications of some Uyghurs seeking life outside communist China in a sign of the country strengthening its ties with Beijing.

Axios spoke to five Uyghurs, each with relatives in China, who were denied Turkish citizenship via documents that cited such risks as "obstacle to national security" and "public order."

Just before the recently completed Olympics in China, dozens of Uyghurs in Istanbul protested China's treatment of the Muslim minority and called for a boycott of the Games.

Earlier this month, The Associated Press reported that the Chinese government last year tightened its grip over its ethnic Uyghur population by sentencing one man to death and three others to life in prison for textbooks drawn in part from historical resistance movements that had once been sanctioned by the ruling Communist Party.

Turkey, which for years has offered refuge to Uyghurs, now is nurturing closer economic and security ties with China, Axios reported.

Elise Anderson, a senior program officer at the D.C.-based Uyghur Human Rights Project, told Axios that the denial of citizenship for some Uyghurs fits a broader pattern of China's ability to extend repression beyond its own borders.

Chinese communist officials are "surveilling, tracking and hunting down Uyghurs, and in some cases, have succeeded in sending them back to the People's Republic of China," Anderson told Axios.

Turkey has one of the world's largest Uyghur communities, with estimates between 30,000 and 50,000 people. However, many Uyghurs there are concerned about their futures there.

Lack of citizenship and the loss of residency status can plunge Uyghurs into statelessness and make it difficult for them to work and earn an education in Turkey.

Beijing has asked Turkey to extradite some Uyghurs back to China – something done in Egypt, Thailand, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Many Uyghurs believe at least one Uyghur family in Turkey has been deported, Axios said.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in saying Uyghurs and Turkish people shared linguistic, ethnic and religious ties, previously had been critical of China's repression of the Muslim ethnic group.

He even suggested in 2009 that ethnic violence in Xinjiang amounted to "genocide."

However, Erdogan since has turned away from the West and strengthened economic links to China.

To "exploit" the Uyghur issue would damage Turkey-China relations, Erdogan said on a visit to Beijing in 2019. He added that he believed it was possible to "find a solution to this issue that takes into consideration the sensitivities on both sides."

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Turkey has denied citizenship applications of some Uyghurs seeking life outside communist China in a sign of the country strengthening its ties with Beijing.
turkey, uyghur, oppression, citizenship, recep tayyip erdogan
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2022-42-01
Tuesday, 01 March 2022 09:42 AM
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