Turkey’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu’s statement regarding Eastern Turkistan activists disheartened many, including Uyghurs living under Chinese oppression – millions of oppressed souls looking to the international community to support their human rights – and Uyghurs activists abroad.
However, I don’t believe that the Minister’s words – “We treat China’s security as our own security” – will completely demoralize us. As members of an international community, we would want all states to support one another’s security, to come to each other’s aid instead of refusing to help others or concealing their own issues by arguing security matters are “internal affairs.” The more important issue here is how states collaborate.
Will Turkey support China’s security by approving China’s corrupt requests, abiding by the Chinese government’s unlawful terms and conditions? Or will it take a path that utilizes the Turks’ commonalities with the Uyghurs – language, culture and history – to play the role of a bridge, showing China the root of its “security” issues and stopping China’s oppression of Uyghurs by seeking a solution to the conflict between China and Eastern Turkistan through diplomatic means?
The Minister stated that Turkey would not permit anti-China activity within its borders and jurisdiction. Uyghur activists abroad have been carrying out their advocacy efforts in compliance with international law and the laws of the states where they reside. That’s true for Uyghur activists in Turkey too. Turkey is a state based on rule of law, and it’s because of this that I don’t believe the foreign affairs minister intends to impede the Uyghurs’ lawful activities. But if the Turkish government decides to stand against and impede the Uyghur people’s international struggle for human rights and self-determination, I’m confident the Turkish people will stand against such an egregious decision. Turkey is a democratic nation so come election day the Turkish people will refuse to stand with an administration that attacks the rights and dignity of their Uyghur brothers and sisters.
Uyghurs activists like me know the Turkish government needs China on its side on various important international matters. We also know that the Turkish government is influenced by China’s economic might– one built on the sweat and blood of the oppressed by a dictatorship that maintains its power by oppressing the Chinese people and the peoples living under occupation in Eastern Turkistan and Tibet.
But whatever the reason or interest he may cite, Minister Çavuşoğlu’s statements may suggest to the world that Turkey is ready to bow before the oppressive dragon and serve as an accomplice to China’s tyranny. The minister’s statement is not only against the Uyghurs, but one that is contrary to the principles of the AK party, Turkey’s political culture, and the Turkish people’s will. I hope that the Turkish government will soon realize the error in this statement and fix it or at the very least restrain itself from supporting oppression.
What worries us the negative influence the Minister’s statement may have on the plight of Uyghurs activists in detention in Turkey like respected community leader Abdulkadir Yapçan; the Uyghur refugees in detention in Thailand who are praying for political asylum in Turkey; and the Uyghur students and families in Egypt being rounded up for deportation to China. We worry that statements like these will embolden Chinese authorities in Eastern Turkistan to carry out even more violent oppressive activities. Thus we request the Turkish people to be more alert on these issues and restrain their own government from making statements and engaging in conduct that endanger the occupied and oppressed Uyghur people.
We believe that the Turkish peoples’ interest is not singularly an economic interest and the people who have been ruling in Anatolia for a thousand years do not need to sacrifice their oppressed Uyghur brothers and sisters to further their own interests.
Those who have been demoralized by Minister Çavuşoğlu’s statements, know this: We know our struggle to free Eastern Turkistan from the tyrannical occupier – the terrorist Chinese state – and regain our homeland – a land that China claims as one-sixth of its own territory – is difficult and demanding. But our greatest weapon is the truth. And we know that certain actors in this world, under pressure of China’s economic might, may seek to dissuade us from our struggle; but we shall never cease our struggle for independence. We shall never surrender our human dignity and right to self-determination.
Leader of Uyghur Huaman Rights and Democracy Movement