The Chinese government recently announced that it has ratified the Sino-Turkish extradition treaty that has caused Uyghurs to become desperate. Human rights experts worry that the treaty will be used to force Uyghur refugees in Turkey to return to China. The bilateral agreement was signed in 2017. With China’s recent ratification, the treaty can be implemented if it receives ratification from the Turkish parliament. Almost 50,000 Uyghurs are estimated to live in Turkey.
Dilxat Raxit, a spokesman for the Uyghur World Congress, noted that Beijing is piling economic pressure on Turkey to ratify the agreement. “This extradition treaty will cause worry among Uighurs who have fled China and do not yet have Turkish citizenship… We call on the Turkish government … to prevent this treaty from becoming an instrument of persecution,” he said to AFP. China’s National People’s Congress formalized the treaty under the pretense of using it for counter-terrorism operations.
More than a million Uyghurs are believed to have been sent to ‘re-education’ camps where they are brainwashed to give up their cultural identity and accept communist ideology. Many of them have been tortured and sent into forced labor. Mass sterilization programs have been implemented to reduce the population of Uyghurs in Xinjiang. The government is also pushing marriages between Han men and Uyghur women as a way to erase the Uyghur culture
Such marriages are often encouraged under the garb of promoting ‘inter-ethnic’ harmony. Due to these persecutions, many Uyghur people have fled China and sought refuge in other nations, with Turkey being a major destination due to its similar cultural values.
While Turkey has raised the Uyghur issue, it has been inconsistent in the matter. Ankara’s decisions are often based on how beneficial Turkey’s current relationship with the Chinese government is.
For instance, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan termed China’s treatment of Uyghurs “genocide” in 2009. But in 2019, Erdogan claimed that Uyghurs were living “happily” under the rule of the Chinese Communist Party.
There have been reports of Turkey secretly expelling Uyghurs to China. The secrecy was presumably to avoid public anger since Turkish people have a soft spot for the community with whom they share culture, custom, and religion. In May, a Chinese request seeking the extradition of an Uyghur man in Turkey leaked online.
The man was interrogated by Turkish security officials who accused him of running a pro-Islamic website. In some cases, Turkey does not send the Uyghurs back to China but to Tajikistan, from where China can easily extradite them. Uyghurs are finding it harder and harder to obtain Turkish residency permits.
Uyghurs residing in Turkey are engaged in campaigns exposing the CCP persecution of their nation
They have been receiving phone calls from Chinese police threatening that their family members in China will come to harm if they continue with their activities.
The International Criminal Court (ICC) recently rejected a request to investigate Beijing’s genocidal acts against the Xinjiang Uyghurs. Since China is not a signatory to the ICC, the court has no basis to act against Beijing. Pro-Uyghur lawyers pointed out, however, that Uyghurs were deported from countries like Cambodia and Tajikistan, countries against which the ICC can act, but this claim was rejected by the court. “[T]his precondition for the exercise of the court’s territorial jurisdiction did not appear to be met with respect to the majority of the crimes alleged… The ICC has no obligation to consider complaints filed to the prosecutor, who can decide independently what cases to submit to judges at the court, set up in 2002 to achieve justice for the world’s worst crimes,” the office of ICC Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda wrote in the court’s annual report.