Uighurs no longer feel safe in Turkey

Uyghurs and Tibetans demonstrate in Ankara, Turkey on July 5, 2019. Photo: RFA

Semih Idiz
September 2, 2019

Turkey sees itself as a leading supporter of the Uighurs, its Turkic kinsmen and co-religionists in China’s autonomous Xinjiang region who are bearing the brunt of Beijing’s repressive efforts to “Sinicize” all religions in the country.

Nevertheless, Uighurs in East Turkestan — as Uighurs as well as Turks know Xinjiang — are increasingly looking to the West for support as Ankara’s reluctance to upset its ties with China becomes more apparent.

Faith in Ankara has also plummeted among Uighur refugees in Turkey. For many of them, what Ankara says and what it does are proving to be different things. Instead of feeling safe in Turkey, Uighurs are increasingly gripped with the fear of deportation back to China.

Turkey appears hamstrung because of its burgeoning economic and trade ties with China, which also include the potential for cooperation in such strategic fields as nuclear power.

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