Turkey’s Uighurs call for boycott of Beijing Olympics

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ISTANBUL, Jan 23 (Reuters) – Dozens of people from China’s Muslim Uyghur ethnic group protested in Istanbul on Sunday, calling for a boycott of next month’s Winter Olympics in Beijing over the government’s treatment of the minority. China.

Protesters gathered outside the city’s Turkish Olympic Committee building, waving the blue and white flags of the East Turkestan independence movement, a group that Beijing says threatens the stability of its far-western Xinjiang region.

“China stop the genocide, China close the camps”, chanted the demonstrators, some brandishing a banner reading “Stop the genocide at the Olympics“.

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Chinese authorities have been accused of facilitating forced labor by detaining around a million Uyghurs and other mainly Muslim minorities in camps since 2016.

China initially denied the existence of the camps, but has since said they were vocational training centers and were designed to fight extremism. He denies all accusations of abuse.

“China has no right to host the Olympics while committing all the torture, cruelty and genocide against the Uyghurs,” said Munevver Ozuygur, a veiled Uyghur housewife, who said she has relatives in camps in China.

The Beijing Olympics begin on February 4.

The United States and many of its allies, including Britain, Canada, Australia, Japan and Denmark, have said they will not send official diplomatic delegations to the Games to protest the record of China rights. Read more

Around 50,000 Uyghurs – with whom Turks share ethnic, religious and linguistic ties – are believed to reside in Turkey, the largest Uyghur diaspora outside of Central Asia.

Last month, 19 Uighurs filed a criminal complaint with a Turkish prosecutor against Chinese officials, accusing them of committing genocide, torture, rape and crimes against humanity. Read more

Uighurs living in Turkey have criticized Ankara’s approach to China. Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said this month that he conveyed Turkey’s “views, expectations and sensitivities” on the Uyghurs to his Chinese counterpart during talks in Beijing. Read more

UN experts and rights groups estimate that more than a million people, mostly Uighurs and other Muslim minorities, have been detained in camps in Xinjiang in recent years.

“The world, Turkish countries and Islamic countries must wake up. China is committing genocide right now,” said protester Abdurrahman Taymaz.

“They deceive people. We want these Olympics to be boycotted as soon as possible.”

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Additional reporting by Yesim Dikmen, writing by Daren Butler, editing by Ed Osmond

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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