Beijing: China on Monday trashed Turkey’s allegations that nearly one million Uighur Muslims were subjected to torture and political brainwashing at concentration camps and prisons in the Xinjiang region.
Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said Beijing respected freedom of religious belief and asked Ankara to stop making such accusations in the interests of bilateral ties, according to Efe news.
The statement came after the Turkish Foreign Ministry said on Saturday more than one million Uighur Muslims had been detained in concentration camps and “the systematic assimilation policy of Chinese authorities against the Uighur Turks was a great embarrassment for humanity”.
Denying the allegation, Hua said lives of people in Xinjiang had “significantly improved” with China’s intensified “anti-terrorist measures”.
“The accusations made by the Turkish side are obviously based on lies,” Hua told reporters, asking Turkey to withdraw the remarks “to uphold the relations between our two countries”.
The spokesperson said population in the western region of the country — near Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan border — “enjoys freedom of religious belief” and had the right to use their own language and their “culture was self-guarded.”
“Turkey is also a multi-ethnic country and faces terrorist threats. Adopting double-standard in anti-terrorism issue will be self-defeating in the end,” Hua said.
“We hope the Turkish side will correctly look at China’s policy and efforts and use actions to enhance mutual trust and cooperation,” he said.
China’s Xinjiang region is home to around 10 million Uighurs. Muslims, which make up around 45 per cent of Xinjiang’s population, have long accused Chinese authorities of cultural, religious and economic discrimination.
According to international human rights organisations, Uighurs, Kazakhs and other Muslim minorities were being detained in camps on frivolous charges like refusing to give a DNA samples, using minority language or arguing with government officials.
The Amnesty International in September 2018 reported deaths and torture of Muslims in these so-called re-education camps, alleging the mass detention centres were places of “brainwashing, torture and punishment” and people who would commit a simple act of messaging family abroad were being detained.
The Chinese government justifies these camps as part of its counter-extremism and counter-terrorism efforts.