Turkish diplomat slams US senators for accusing Ankara of forcibly returning Uighur refugees

Turkish diplomat slams US senators for accusing Ankara of forcibly returning Uighur refugees
US senators have accused Turkey of mistreating muslim Uighurs who have escaped prosecution in China.
3 min read
23 May, 2020
China's Uighur Muslims have been forced to renounce their faith in extrajudicial detentions [Getty]
Turkey's ambassador to the US, Serdar Kilic responded on Friday to comments made by American senators who accused Ankara of mistreating Uighur refugees fleeing China's crackdown on the muslim minority group.

In a letter to Massachusetts Democratic Senator Edward Markey, Kilic said recent allegations accusing Turkey of deporting Uighur refugees were "mere fabrication" and "far from reflecting the truth."

The ambassador's comments came in response to a news report shared by Markey, as well as US Senator Jim Risch, detailing how China is exerting pressure on countries to deport Uighurs taking refuge.

"It's shameful that #Turkey assists #China in violating #Uyghur human rights. Countries shouldn't persecute or forcibly return Uighurs & other minorities fleeing the CCP," Risch, an Idaho Republican who is the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said in a tweet on Wednesday.

Risch made the remarks citing a report by Axios news website which claimed Ankara had reversed some of its support for Uighurs, and tasked Turkish police with questioning refugees fleeing China's crackdown.

Kilic said the allegations were "unsubstantiated and biased."

"Senator, common sense based on facts and realities suggest that what is really shameful is seeing the Chairman of such an important Committee subscribe to unsubstantiated and biased allegations incriminating a key ally, without even questioning whether there is any truth to them," Kilic was quoted as saying by the Anadolu Agency.

Markey also shared the same report on Thursday, accusing Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of "abusing extradition requests to target his critics around the world."

"As Beijing pushes its own extradition and intimidation campaign against minorities, Turkey should rededicate itself to the protection of persecuted Uighurs," Markey wrote.

Read also: US Senate approves bill calling for tougher response to China's crackdown on Uighur Muslims

Kilic also hit back at latter comments by the senator, saying he "regretted" that "some" Congress members were quick to appeal to "biased allegations against Turkey."

"Believe me Mr Senator, nothing can match the level of abuse Turkey and Turkish authorities are subjected to by some members on the Hill. This tweet clearly displays yet again that some of them don’t even hesitate to subscribe to unsubstantiated and biased allegations to that end," the envoy responded on Twitter.

The report shared by the senators cited authenticated documents allegedly conveyed by China to Turkey regarding a "secret extradition request" for a Uighur named Enver Turdi – accused by China of "running a pro-Islamic State website." 

Turdi, who denies the allegation, was sent to a criminal court and his case is still pending in the Turkish courts, according to the report.

Also spelled as Uygurs, Uighurs, or Uigurs, the Turkic-speaking ethnic group has resided in China's western Xinjiang region for a millennia.

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