About 50,000 Uighurs have fled China in recent years. These people seek refuge in Turkiye because they share a common cultural heritage with the Turks.

According to East-turkistan.net, a Chinese delegation headed by Du Hangwei, the Vice Minister of China’s Public Security Ministry, had a sudden visit to Ankara. There, he met with Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu on November 3. 

The visit came after Turkiye had signed onto a joint statement at the United Nations earlier this week. The action was to denounce China’s continued atrocities against Uyghurs and other Turkic peoples in Occupied East Turkistan.

Uyghurs refugee communities are now worried about being deported back to China.

Prime Minister Salih Hudayar of the East Turkistan Government in Exile said, “We call on opposition parties in Turkey to not allow the Erdogan administration to sacrifice the oppressed people of East Turkistan to China.”

According to some experts, the future of Uighur refugees in Turkey could be in jeopardy because of such meetings. Apart from China, Turkey is the country with the largest Uyghur community in the world.

Memet Tohti Atawulla, senior program director at the Center for Uyghur Studies in Washington, had a phone interview with Voice of America. He said that this meeting shows that China has been following the Uyghurs in exile in Turkey and asking Turkey to repatriate the Uyghurs to China.

Turkey and China signed an extradition treaty during Erdogan’s 2017 trip to Beijing, which China approved in December 2020.
Human rights groups also warned that the treaty could jeopardize Uyghur families and activists fleeing persecution by Chinese authorities if Ankara ratified the deal.

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