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From Istanbul to Xinjiang, via Dushanbe: The shocking plight of Uighur Muslims

From Istanbul to Xinjiang, via Dushanbe: The shocking plight of Uighur Muslims

The world is changing fast and so is the constantly evolving geopolitics. But, one man hasn't changed much. Maybe it is just the veil that has been removed.

Chinese President Xi Jinping was always considered the ruthless type. Soon he found a friend in Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Both are leading expansionist campaigns and made good buddies. However, while what Xi had been doing to the Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang was well-documented, Erdogan always looked the other side, projected himself as the savior, the ultimate protector, of Muslims and even gave refuge to more than 50,000 Uighurs in his country.

It was all farce, just like democracy is in Turkey. Erdogan is in reality helping China repatriate Uighur Muslims as a report 'How Turkey is sending Muslim Uighurs back to China without breaking its promise' done by UK's leading newspaper <a href="https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2020/07/26/turkey-sending-muslim-uighurs-back-china-without-breaking-promise/">Daily Telegraph</a> has revealed.

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"President Erdogan is helping China repatriate Muslim dissidents by sending them to third countries from which they can be extradited by Beijing," said the report listing several cases where Uighurs were sent to countries like Tajikistan and held in captivity for months before being sent to China.

With Turkey's economy in dire straits and China pumping in billions of dollars through the Belt and Road Initiative plan, the newspaper said "it's the Uighurs who have lost."

How times have changed!

About 11 years ago, Erdogan, then the Turkish Prime Minister, had accused China of committing genocide in Xinjiang.

"The incidents in China are, simply put, a genocide. There's no point in interpreting this otherwise. We're having trouble understanding how the Chinese government would remain a bystander to this," Erdogan had said in 2009.

Or, maybe he was always a double-faced man and it is just the mask that has come off now.

Last month, when the US President Donald Trump had signed legislation calling for sanctions over the repression of China's Uighurs, many activists and human rights experts had said that Turkey should have preceded the United States.

"This decision should have come from the parliament of Turkey, who we share a religion and nationality with," World Uyghur Congress inspector general Abdulhakim Idris had told a YouTube channel.

"The United States will not stand idly by as the CCP carries out human rights abuses targeting Uyghurs, ethnic Kazakhs, and members of other minority groups in Xinjiang, to include forced labor, arbitrary mass detention, and forced population control, and attempts to erase their culture and Muslim faith," US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had said in a statement.
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet">
<p dir="ltr" lang="en">In schools across the Xinjiang region, the Chinese Communist Party penalizes Uyghur students and members of other Muslim minority groups for speaking their native language and forbids praying and wearing any religious attire on campus. <a href="https://t.co/AorX0AyWvH">pic.twitter.com/AorX0AyWvH</a></p>
— Department of State (@StateDept) <a href="https://twitter.com/StateDept/status/1285637730236596224?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">July 21, 2020</a></blockquote>
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Washington-based National Public Radio (NPR) non-profit media organization had highlighted in a report earlier this year how Uighurs in Turkey, most of them living in two Istanbul neighborhoods, Zeytinburnu and Sefakoy, now fear China's long arm.

"NPR spoke to more than a dozen Uighurs in Istanbul who detailed how Turkish police arrested them and sent them to deportation centers, sometimes for months, without telling them why. One Uighur activist in Turkey says he has counted at least 200 such detentions since January 2019, while a lawyer says he has assisted more than 400 Uighurs arrested in the past year," the <a href="https://www.npr.org/2020/03/13/800118582/i-thought-it-would-be-safe-uighurs-in-turkey-now-fear-china-s-long-arm%C2%A0">report</a> said.
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<p dir="ltr" lang="en">The appalling persecution of the Uighur Muslims in China cannot continue.<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/PMQs?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#PMQs</a> <a href="https://t.co/Pidxxiz7xj">pic.twitter.com/Pidxxiz7xj</a></p>
— Keir Starmer (@Keir_Starmer) <a href="https://twitter.com/Keir_Starmer/status/1285950620369813506?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">July 22, 2020</a></blockquote>
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It is for sure that most of them would now feel that it was wrong to trust Turkey, a huge mistake to stay put in the country after Erdogan came to power. They've been badly let down by the man who regards himself a champion of the Palestinian cause, a global Muslim leader..