ISTANBUL

Uighur Turks living in Istanbul continue to stage a protest outside the Chinese consulate demanding to know the condition of their family members held at concentration and forced labor camps in China. 

Marking its 13th day, the group of protesters including academics, business persons and civil servants said they had not heard from their family members in China for many years.

The protesters held banners in four different languages to draw attention to the plight of their family members.

So far, none of the Chinese consulate staff has spoken to them, a protester said.

Omer Faruk Yazici, a politician from Turkey’s Felicity (Saadet) Party, who attended the protest said: “Today not just an individual’s history is being stolen and erased, but that of an entire nation.

He condemned the inhumane policies of the Chinese government.

“What is even more upsetting is the entire world remaining silent in the face of these atrocities” Yazici added.

China has been widely accused of putting Uighurs into camps, and there have been reports of the forced sterilization of Uighur women.

Beijing’s policy in Xinjiang has drawn widespread criticism from rights groups including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, which accuse it of ostracizing the 12 million Uighurs in China, most of whom are Muslims.

The region is home to 10 million Uighurs. The Turkic Muslim group, which makes up around 45% of Xinjiang’s population, has long accused China’s 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.

The camps have been linked to forced labor and mandatory sterilization.

*Writing by Merve Aydogan in Ankara

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