BISHKEK (TCA) — Turkey has called on Beijing to respect the rights of Uyghurs, a Turkic ethnic minority living in China’s northwestern Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, and to close the so-called re-education camps where up to a million Uyghurs are reportedly held. "We invite the Chinese authorities to respect the fundamental human rights of Uighur Turks and to close the internment camps. We call on the international community and the Secretary General of the United Nations to take effective measures in order to bring to an end this human tragedy in Xinjiang," spokesman for the Turkish Foreign Ministry Hami Aksoy said in a statement published on the ministry's website on February 9. We are republishing the following article on the issue, written by James M. Dorsey*: In perhaps the most significant condemnation to date of China’s brutal crackdown on Turkic Muslims in its north-western province of Xinjiang, Turkey’s foreign ministry demanded this weekend that Chinese authorities respect human rights of the Uighurs and close what it termed “concentration camps” in which up to one million people are believed to be imprisoned. Calling the crackdown an “embarrassment to humanity,” Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Hami Aksoy said the death of detained Uighur poet and musician Abdurehim Heyit had prompted the ministry to issue its statement. Known as the Rooster of Xinjiang, Mr. Heyit symbolized the Uighurs’ cultural links to the Turkic world, according to Adrian Zenz, a European School of Culture and Theology researcher who has done pioneering work on the crackdown. Turkish media asserted that Mr. Heyit, who was serving an eight-year prison sentence, had been tortured to death. Mr. Aksoy said Turkey was calling on other countries and United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to take steps to end the “humanitarian tragedy” in Xinjiang. The Chinese embassy in Ankara rejected the statement as a “violation of the facts,” insisting that China was fighting separatism, extremism and terrorism, not seeking to “eliminate” the Uighurs’ ethnic, religious or cultural identity. Mr. Aksoy’s statement contrasted starkly with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s declaration six months earlier that China was Turkey’s economic partner of the future. At the time, Turkey had just secured a US$3.6 billion loan for its energy and telecommunications sector from the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC). The Turkish statement constitutes the first major crack in the Muslim wall of silence that has enabled the Chinese crackdown, the most frontal assault on Islam in recent memory. The statement’s significance goes beyond developments in Xinjiang. Like with Muslim condemnation of US President Donald J. Trump’s decision last year to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, Turkey appears to want to be seen as a spokesman of the Muslim world in its one-upmanship with Saudi Arabia and to a lesser degree Iran. While neither the [Saudi] kingdom or Iran are likely to follow Turkey’s example any time soon, the statement raises the stakes and puts other contenders for leadership on the defensive. The bulk of the Muslim world has remained conspicuously silent with...
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KABUL (TCA) — Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says his country will host the leaders of Pakistan and Afghanistan as part of efforts to end the Afghan Taliban's 17-year insurgency, RFE/RL reported. Continue reading
ASTANA (TCA) — Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev during his visit to Turkey met with the heads of the largest Turkish companies in Ankara on September 13, Kazakh Invest National Company for Investment Support and Promotion reported. Continue reading
ASTANA (TCA) — Kazakhstan and Turkey signed 24 agreements on investment, trade and economic cooperation at an investment forum in Ankara on September 12. The projects with Turkish capital are aimed first of all at development of the non-resource sector of the Kazakh economy, providing more than 3,000 new jobs. “Today Turkey is on the second place in terms of the number of companies with foreign capital in Kazakhstan. Growing number of Turkish companies in our country is one of the basic factors contributing to exchange of capital, best practices and technologies between our countries,” said First Deputy Prime Minister of Kazakhstan Askar Mamin, who opened the investment forum. Kazakhstan and Turkish companies have signed 24 commercial documents for a total amount of around US $1.7 billion. The documents are aimed at implementation of different investment projects. For instance, in Kazakhstan’s Zhambyl region it is planned to build a factory for production of soda ash (Na2CO3), which is used in metallurgical, chemical and glass making industries, with a total cost of 270 million US dollars and with creation of 350 jobs. According to an agreement reached between Kazakh Invest National Company for Investment Support and Promotion and Eksen Group, the Turkish investor plans to build a new financial, social and business center – Downtown Almaty – in Almaty city at a cost of 300 million US dollars. Downtown Almaty will accommodate business centers, premium class apartments and JW Marriot hotel, Kazakh Invest said. Administration of Kazakhstan’s Turkestan region and DAL Holding signed the Agreement on construction of a greenhouse facility at a cost of $200 million with creation of 700 jobs. “We can speak of strengthening of expansion trend of large Turkish holdings on the market of Kazakhstan. Whereas traditional industries to where Turkish investors came in the past were hotel business and production of construction materials at the level of small and medium business, today major Turkish companies open such new industries as mining and metallurgy, agriculture, agricultural chemistry, metallurgy, treatment industry and much more,” said Saparbek Tuyakbayev, chairman of Kazakh Invest National Company Board of Directors. The Turkish side emphasized that Turkish investors are interested in expansion of their production in Kazakhstan due to the country’s political stability, a favorable investment climate, and access to markets of the Eurasian Economic union, Central Asia, and West China.
BISHKEK (TCA) — In the issue relating to a network of Turkish schools in Kyrgyzstan, Bishkek has found itself between a rock and a hard place with regard to its relations with Ankara. We are republishing this article on the issue, originally published by Eurasianet: A disagreement over a network of Kyrgyzstani schools that Turkey views as havens for state sabotage and even terrorism is fast turning into a game of chicken. Judging by Bishkek’s latest salvo, the smaller country is reluctant to roll over, even in the face of increasingly strident demands from Ankara. On September 11 Kyrgyzstan’s Foreign Ministry summoned Turkey’s ambassador and told him to “only reflect objective information” in his public speeches, after the diplomat had referenced the schools in a press conference the previous day. Ambassador Cengiz Kamil Firat had told journalists eager to know the fate of the controversial Sapat schools that Turkey’s government-run Maarif Foundation would soon be taking them over. The schools had initially been built with the “money of Turkish taxpayers,” he said. The Education Ministry responded that the schools are firmly under Kyrgyz government control and that only the schools’ founders – including “citizens of the Kyrgyz Republic” – could determine their fate. The fees-based Sapat schools were previously known as the Sebat schools before the Kyrgyz government rebranded them, under Turkish pressure, in 2016 after a botched coup attempt in Turkey. The Sebat schools had been linked to Fethullah Gulen, an enigmatic 77-year-old U.S.-based educator and cleric whom Ankara blames for masterminding the coup attempt. The controversy puts Bishkek in a tricky position. The Sapat schools remain among Kyrgyzstan’s best, while Turkey increasingly classifies friends and enemies according to their stance on Gulen. Fellow Turkic state Azerbaijan, for instance, stands firmly among Ankara’s best buddies. The country had already begun clearing out Gulen-linked institutions in 2014, after the cleric’s very public split with Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Following the coup attempt, Baku duly finished the job. Turkmenistan, too, has cracked down on Gulen supporters in the country. Others who joined the anti-Gulen effort late have made up for lost time. This week, Moldova deported seven Turkish nationals who were teachers at a Gulen-linked school in the capital, according to Amnesty International. Another six Turks were deported from Kosovo earlier this year. All of them are believed to be imprisoned now in Turkey, where tens of thousands of teachers and civil servants have been jailed over supposed Gulen links since the coup attempt. Kyrgyzstan, meanwhile, is sitting on the fence. When Erdogan visited Bishkek last week, his speeches were peppered with references to FETO, an acronym Ankara uses to liken the Gulenist network to a terrorist organization. During a meeting with President Sooronbai Jeenbekov, Erdogan warned that Kyrgyzstan might also face a coup if it doesn’t act decisively. Turkey would save the country from the "shadow of FETO," he promised. To Bishkek, just as alarming as the school-takeover push is a reported list of 130 arch-Gulenists the Turkish delegation...
CHOLPON-ATA, Kyrgyzstan (TCA) — Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev says Uzbekistan is eager to join the Council of Cooperation of the Turkic-Speaking Countries, also known as the Turkic Council, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reported. Continue reading