Turkey’s Ambassador to US, Serdar Kilic, hit back Friday at two American senators for comments regarding Ankara’s treatment of Uyghurs.
Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Senator Jim Risch, shared a news report on Twitter that claimed Ankara reversed some of its support for Uyghurs and Turkish police are questioning refugees fleeing China’s crackdown.
“It’s shameful that Turkey assists China in violating Uyghur human rights,” the Idaho Republican said in remarks accompanying the tweet Wednesday.
In retort to Risch, Kilic said: “Senator, common sense based on facts and realities suggest that what really shameful is to see the Chairman of such an important Committee subscribe to unsubstantiated and biased allegations incriminating a key Ally, without even questioning whether there is any truth into them.”
Massachusetts Democratic Senator Edward Markey shared the same report Thursday and accused Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of “abusing extradition requests to target his critics around the world.”
“As Beijing pushes its own extradition and intimidation campaign against minorities, Turkey should rededicate itself to the protection of persecuted Uyghurs,” wrote Markey.
In his response to Markey, Kilic regretted that “some” Congress members are quick to appeal to biased allegations against Turkey.
“Believe me Mr Senator, nothing can match the level of abuse Turkey and Turkish authorities are subjected to by some members on the Hill. This tweet clearly displays yet again that some of them don’t even hesitate to subscribe to unsubstantiated and biased allegations to that end,” Kilic replied on Twitter.
The report by Axios news website cited authenticated documents allegedly conveyed by China to Turkey regarding a “secret extradition request” for a Uyghur named Enver Turdi. China accused him of “running a pro-Islamic State website.” Turdi denies the accusation.
Turdi was sent to a criminal court and his case is still pending in the Turkish courts, according to the report.
In a letter sent separately to both senators, Kilic said allegations concerning the extradition of Uyghur Turks to third countries are “mere fabrication and as such are far from reflecting the truth.”
“Given our historical background and the fact that we share a common language, religion and culture with the Uighur Turks, any issue pertaining to their well-being holds a special place on our agenda,” he said.
The Turkish envoy added that extradition and judicial requests by China are examined in accordance with international law based on “full respect to human rights and within the framework of established practice.”
China’s Xinjiang region is home to 10 million Uyghurs. The Turkic Muslim group, which makes up around 45% of Xinjiang’s population, has long accused Chinese authorities of cultural, religious and economic discrimination.
Up to 1 million people, or about 7% of the Muslim population in Xinjiang, have been incarcerated in an expanding network of “political re-education” camps, according to US officials and UN experts.
Thousands of Uyghurs have sought refuge in Turkey after fleeing Beijing’s brutal crackdown since 2014.
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