Protesters accuse the Chinese state of committing genocide and torture against the Muslim Uighur minority.
Dozens of protesters from China’s Uighur Muslim ethnic group have protested in Istanbul, calling for a boycott of next month’s Winter Olympics in Beijing over China’s treatment of the minority.
Protesters gathered in front of the Turkish Olympic Committee building in the city on Sunday, waving blue and white flags of East Turkestan’s independence movement, a group that says Beijing is threatening the stability of its far western Xinjiang region.
“China, stop the genocide; China, close the camps, “protesters chanted, with some holding a banner reading” Stop the Genocide Olympics. “
“China has no right to host the Olympics as long as it carries out all the torture, cruelty and genocide against Uighurs,” said Uighur housewife Munevver Ozuigur, who said she had relatives in camps in China.
UN experts and human rights groups estimate that more than a million people, mostly from Uighurs and other Muslim minorities, have been detained in camps in Xinjiang in recent years.
Beijing denies the genocide or the existence of forced labor camps in Xinjiang and accused Uighurs who testified abroad about conditions in the northwest region that liars had been paid for.
After initially completely denying the existence of the Xinjiang camps, China later defended them as vocational training centers aimed at reducing the attractiveness of “extremism.”
The United States and many of its allies, including the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, Japan and Denmark, have said they will not send official diplomatic delegations to the Games to protest China’s rights. The Winter Olympics begin on February 4.
The United States has imposed sanctions on a growing list of Chinese politicians and companies over its treatment of Uighurs, which has led to measures taken by Beijing.
China has sanctioned European, British and American lawmakers, as well as scholars studying Xinjiang and a London law firm.
It is estimated that about 50,000 Uighurs with whom Turks share ethnic, religious and linguistic ties live in Turkey, the largest Uighur diaspora outside Central Asia.
Last month, 19 Uighurs filed a criminal complaint with Turkish prosecutors against Chinese officials, accusing them of genocide, torture, rape and crimes against humanity.
Uighurs living in Turkey have criticized Ankara’s approach to China.
Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said this month that he had conveyed to his Chinese counterpart Turkey’s “views, expectations and sensitivities” regarding Uighurs during talks in Beijing.
“The world, the Turkic countries and the Islamic countries must wake up. China is currently committing genocide, “said protester Abdurahman Taimaz.
“They are cheating people. We want these Olympic Games to be boycotted as soon as possible.