ISTANBUL, Feb 10 (AP): Turkey's foreign ministry has called China's treatment of its minority Uighurs "a great cause of shame for humanity."
In a statement Saturday, Foreign Ministry spokesman Hami Aksoy said it's "no longer a secret" that China has arbitrarily detained more than a million Uighurs in "concentration camps." He said the Turkic Muslim population faced pressure and "systematic assimilation" in western China.
Aksoy said Turkey has shared with China its position on "all levels" and urged authorities to close the detention facilities and respect human rights.
China has intensified a security crackdown on Uighurs that was put in place after a bloody 2009 riot. Droves of Uighurs have fled, many traveling to Turkey.
"It is no longer a secret that more than one million Uighur Turks, who are exposed to arbitrary arrests, are subjected to torture and political brainwashing in concentration centres and prisons," Aksoy said.
"We invite Chinese authorities to respect fundamental human rights of the Uighur Turks and shut down concentration camps," he said.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had once accused China of "genocide" but has since established closer diplomatic and economic relations with Beijing.
China's Xinjiang region is home to around 10 million Uighurs. The Turkic Muslim group, which makes up around 45 percent of Xinjiang's population, has long accused Chinese authorities of cultural, religious and economic discrimination.
Practising Islam is forbidden in some parts of China, with individuals caught praying, fasting, growing a beard or wearing a hijab, a headscarf worn by many Muslim women who feel it is part of their religion, facing the threat of arrest.
China's crackdown on Uighur people has made headlines around the world.
In August last year, a United Nations panel of experts said it had received credible reports that over a million Uighurs and other Turkic language-speaking minorities were being held in so-called "re-education camps" where they are made to renounce Islam.
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