Turkey raises Uighur issues with China amid protests

Turkey said it raised the issue of Uighur Muslims during talks with China's foreign minister in Ankara on Thursday (March 25).

It came as hundreds of Uighurs protested against the treatment of their ethnic kin in China.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi met President Tayyip Erdogan, as around 1,000 protesters gathered in Istanbul, chanting "Dictator China" and "Stop Uighur Genocide, Close the Camps."

Some waved blue-and-white flags of the independence movement of East Turkestan, the name by which the movement refers to Xinjiang.

"We are here because of the freedom of Eastern Turkestan, for asking the Chinese government to close the camps, stop genocide against Uighurs."

China approved an extradition treaty with Turkey in December.

With the deal awaiting ratification by Ankara's parliament, activists among some 40,000 Uighurs living in Turkey have stepped up efforts to highlight their plight, holding regular protests in Ankara and Istanbul.

Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, who has denied that the extradition accord would lead to Uighurs being sent back to China, said after meeting Wang he had conveyed "our sensitivity and thoughts on Uighur Turks".

He added that Ankara and Beijing would enhance cooperation against the COVID-19 pandemic and on vaccines.

Uighurs' worries have been fueled by Ankara's dependence on China for COVID-19 vaccines, having received 15 million doses from Sinovac Biotech and ordered tens of millions more.