• By The Financial District

TURKEY UNDER PRESSURE FROM CHINA TO TURN OVER UYGHUR OPPOSITION

Turkey has long been a sanctuary for nearly 50,000 Uyghurs who escaped persecution in China. However, recent police raids and detentions have put many Uyghurs on edge. Some members of the Muslim, Turkic-speaking community have already left for Europe, Ergin Hava reported for Deutsche Press-Agentur (dpa).

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Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu acknowledged in December 2020 that China had asked Ankara to repatriate some Uyghurs, adding, however, that Turkey disapproves of "innocent" people being targeted. It is unclear when the parliament will discuss ratifying the repatriation deal.


However, rights groups and the opposition fear Ankara will yield to Beijing's recently intensified political pressure to return certain Uyghur figures whom China sees as a threat.


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The government should not "let our Uyghur sisters and brothers suffer at the expense of financial aid from China," Utku Cakirozer, a lawmaker from the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP), told the parliament in January 2021.


The economic rapprochement with China has been evident particularly since 2018, when the state-owned Industrial and Commercial Bank of China gave Turkey $3.6 billion in loans. That coincided with Turkey's lira currency crisis amid a diplomatic rift with the US.


China has $2 billion worth of investments in some of Turkey's strategic sectors, key for Beijing's Belt and Road initiative, according to Turkish Foreign Ministry data.


Government & politics: Politicians, government officials and delegates standing in front of their country flags in a political event in the financial district.

Since December 2020, Uyghurs in Turkey have been protesting, desperately seeking to raise awareness on the risk of deportation to China. Many of them also claim to have family members who have gone missing in China's northwestern Xinjiang region.


Turkey has long welcomed Muslim, Turkic-speaking Uyghurs, including businesspeople and academics, fleeing China, where many fear jail time over alleged terrorism or separatist-linked charges if they return.



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