Sep 02, 2009

East Turkestan: Turkish Minister Meets Chinese PM on Killings of Uyghurs

Active ImageTurkish State Minister, who is on a formal visit to China, met on Monday Chinese Prime Minister to discuss killings of Uyghurs, state-run news agency said.



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Turkish State Minister, who is on a formal visit to China, met on Monday [August 31] with Chinese Prime Minister to discuss killings of Uyghurs, a state-run news agency said.

Zafer Caglayan is in China as the special representative of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. He is the first Turkish minister visiting China after the killings of Uyghurs in Xinjiang province.

Chinese Primer Wen Jiabao said he was pleased with Caglayan's visit to his country as a special envoy of Erdogan, adding that Caglayan's visit was a sign of importance.

"China attaches great importance to relations, too. We want to strengthen and improve bilateral relations with the principle of mutual respect, equality and interest," Wen Jiabao said.

Later, the meeting continued behind closed doors.
Uyghur demonstrators took the streets in Urumqi on July 5 to protest against Han Chinese attacks on Uyghurs workers at a factory in south China in June which left two Uyghurs dead. Hans in Urumqi sought bloody revenge two days later.

World Uyghur Congress said that near 800 Uyghurs were killed during a week of violence after Han Chinese attacks and following intervention of China forces. The China government put the death toll at 197.

A video appeared showing Chinese lynchings that sparked Uyghur protests. Exiled Uyghur leaders said the protests were peaceful until security forces overreacted with deadly force.

East Turkistan was occupied by communist China in 1949 and its name was changed in 1955.

Turkey's stance

Turkish PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan called the killings "genocide".

He said: "The incidents in China are, simply put, a genocide. There's no point in interpreting this otherwise."

Turkey keeps protests against China violence in Uyghur region and a Minister and a Turkish consumer organization has called for boycott of Chinese goods.

Many Uyghurs resent the Han Chinese rule, complaining they're marginalised economically and politically in their own land, while having to tolerate a rising influx of Han Chinese migrants.

Meanwhile, human rights groups accuse Beijing of using claims of "terrorism" as an excuse to crack down on peaceful pro-independence sentiment and expressions of Uyghur identity.

East Turkistan, which has 8 million Uyghurs, borders Russia, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India, has abundant oil reserves and is China's largest natural gas-producing region.