Rebiya Kadeer, a millionaire businesswoman turned political dissident, may travel to Turkey, according to Seyit Tümtürk, deputy head of the World Uighur Congress. Kadeer, known as the “mother Uighur,” who lives in Fairfax County, responded positively to a statement from Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Thursday.
Earlier on Thursday, NTV had reported that Turkey had twice denied a visa to Kadeer. In response to a question from the press yesterday, shortly before heading to Italy to join a G-8 summit, PM Erdoğan said, “If there is such an application, we will issue a visa for her.” Minutes later, Tümtürk was speaking to NTV, saying he had relayed the message to Kadeer, who had happily indicated that she would visit Turkey. A visit to Turkey could help get Kadeer's message about the plight of Uighurs, an ethnically Turkic people, out to the international community.
It could also spark outrage from China, as Chinese officials have said Kadeer has played a role in organizing the riots, basing their allegation on a recording of a phone conversation she had with a relative in Urumqi. Kadeer rejects the charge. She says she called her brother to alert him to announcements being circulated by others on the Internet.
Besides the possibility of hosting Kadeer, Turkey has been making efforts to bring the Uighur issue to an international platform. Earlier this week, Erdoğan said the issue would be brought up by Turkey at the UN Security Council, where Turkey is a non-permanent member. China has shrugged off Turkey's remark, saying Xinjiang is an internal matter.
A group of protestors denounced the killings of Uighur Turks at the hands of Chinese forces at a demonstration held yesterday in front of the Chinese Embassy in Ankara.
Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu spoke with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton yesterday, Foreign Ministry officials said. According to sources, Davutoğlu voiced Turkey's distress regarding the incidents in Xinjiang and called for greater attention to the tragedy.
Davutoğlu called on the international community on Wednesday to take immediate action to end the violence in Xinjiang and prevent the incidents from turning into widespread ethnic conflict.
Both government agencies and nongovernmental organizations in Turkey have condemned the killings in the autonomous Xinjiang territory, which is home to 8 million Turkic-speaking Muslim Uighurs, and have urged the Chinese government to immediately take proper action to stem ethnic clashes and hold those responsible for the tragedies accountable.
On Wednesday, Davutoğlu spoke with his counterparts in Britain, France, Sweden and Iran, asking the international community to display greater concern for the human tragedy in Xinjiang.
Prime Minister Erdoğan also reiterated yesterday at a press conference before his departure to Italy in the afternoon that Turkey would continue to pursue its goal of drawing international attention to the issue.
Meanwhile, the outrage in Turkey continued, with State Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç making a harsh but emotional speech regarding the situation in Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang. Speaking to members of the press after a media and communications conference he attended, Arınç said he was deeply saddened by the incidents in China.
“We have profound historical ties to our brothers in the Uighur region,” Arınç said, adding that he believed more than 300,000 Uighur Turks lived in Turkey, enabling ties of brotherhood to survive for years.
Arınç said the relationship between China and Turkey was very strong, adding that the Uighurs also acted as a bridge of friendship between the two countries.
“However, unfortunately, we are faced today with these incidents that have reached the level of cruelty and have been going on for some time in the eyes of the world. Now the Chinese army is invading the streets. At the same time, militia forces of Han Chinese are hunting Uighurs with deadly weapons. They are raiding homes, they are taking away children and women and we hear of a great number of deaths. Turkey is making great effort in the face of these,” Arınç said.
Arınç also accused China of trying to ignore and cover up the incidents. “We most certainly would like to bring this issue with the United Nations and the foreign ministers of the European Union. Unfortunately, China is trying to cover up these incidents with its powerful economy, population and the power it wields in international politics. Yesterday, we heard with shivers Chinese officials talk about executing thousands of people. We most certainly value our relations with China, but this now stands on its own as an issue of human rights,” he said.
Describing the situation in Xinjiang, Arınç said: “There lie bodies on the streets that have still not been removed. There are women who try to resist standing all by themselves in front of tanks, trucks and armies. It is most certainly possible for those really responsible for what happened there to be found. Our wish is that this would be resolved and concluded with an investigation that would not hurt the relationship between Turkey and China. We would like to help China regarding this issue. But we are watching with sadness the threats of crazed people attacking innocent people and are making intense effort in the international community to do what needs to be done about this.”
Another remark about China came from Minister of Industry Nihat Ergün, who yesterday called on businessmen and consumers to boycott Chinese products.
Meanwhile, bar associations, human rights groups and other organizations in Turkey continued to protest China's treatment of the Uighurs yesterday.
Speaking to the press, Kayseri Bar Association President Ali Aydın, speaking for 21 provincial bar associations, condemned the violence and called on the international community to find a permanent and effective solution. Aydın was also speaking on behalf of the bar associations of Sivas, Elazığ, Yalova, Konya, Iğdır, Erzincan, Kütahya, İzmir, Çankırı, Aksaray, Karaman, Gümüşhane, Afyon, Adana, Kahramanmaraş, Düzce, Denizli, Trabzon, Yozgat, Nevşehir and Burdur.
There were protests by various groups throughout the country. Members of the Confederation of Independent Public Servant Unions (BASK) laid a black wreath in front of the Chinese Embassy in Ankara yesterday.
There were also protests in Iğdır, Van, İzmir, Kayseri, Karabük and Yalova. Meanwhile, the Felicity Party (SP) announced yesterday that it would be organizing a mass protest against China on July 12.