ISTANBUL (Reuters)–Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on July 10 that genocide was being committed in China’s northwest province of Xinjiang and called on Chinese authorities to intervene to prevent more deaths.
“The incidents in China are, simply put, a genocide. There’s no point in interpreting this otherwise,” Erdogan said.
The Turkish Prime Minister’s comments come as Turkey continues to spend hundreds of million dollars a year to prevent the recognition of the Armenian Genocide, in which 1.5 million Armenians were systematically massacred by the Ottoman Turkish government from 1915-1923.
The Armenian Genocide is internationally recognized by historians and genocide scholars as the first genocide of the 20th century. But Turkey vehemently denies its crime against the Armenian people, who were subjects of the Ottoman Empire at the time, and hires multimillion dollar lobbying firms and former members of Congress to prevent US reaffirmation of the Genocide.
Rioting between Muslim Uighurs and Han Chinese in Xinjiang has killed 156 people and wounded more than 1,000 in the worst ethnic violence in China in decades. Both Uighurs and the Han have claimed a higher death toll from the strife.
“We’re having trouble understanding how the Chinese government would remain a bystander to this,” Erdogan told reporters in comments broadcast live on NTV television. Erdogan did not, however, comment on his own government’s ongoing aid to the government of Sudan, which has been carrying out a genocide in Darfur since early 2003. “We want the Chinese administration, with which our bilateral ties are continuously improving, to show sensitivity.”
Muslim Turkey shares linguistic and religious links with Uighurs, and Turkish nationalists see Xinjiang as the easternmost frontier of Turkic ethnicity. Thousands of Uighur immigrants live in Turkey.
Turkey has sought to boost ties with China, the world’s third-biggest economy. President Abdullah Gul last month became the first Turkish president to visit China in 15 years, signing $1.5 billion worth of trade deals, according to Turkish media.
Turkey’s Industry Minister Thursday called on Turks to boycott Chinese goods to protest the violence in Xinjiang, but a spokesman said this was the minister’s personal view and not government policy.
Thursday, Erdogan said Turkey would grant a visa to exiled Uighur leader Rebiya Kadeer, who is based in the United States. Kadeer told Turkish television that Turkish authorities had twice denied her visa application to visit the country.