Apr 04, 2008

East Turkestan: Istanbul Protestors Detained

Sample ImageAmid a suffocating police presence, Uyghur demonstrators attempted to highlight the plight of minorities within China as the Olympic Torch traverses the globe.

Below is an article written by C. Onur Ant and published by the Associated Press:

Police detained at least six Uighur Muslims on Thursday [3 April 2008] at an anti-China protest during the Olympic torch ceremony near one of Turkey's most famous tourist destinations.

The demonstrators were detained after they broke away from a larger group of protesters and shouted slogans just feet away from Tugba Karademir, a Turkish figure skater and Olympic athlete who had just started to run with the torch through the city.

About 200 Uighur Muslims had converged ahead of the ceremony near Istanbul's Blue Mosque and the domed Haghia Sofia church.

The Olympic flame is on a global tour before the summer games in Beijing. Activists have called for protests following unrest in Tibet. There also have been reports of unrest by the Uighur minority in China's Xinjiang region. Uighurs are related to Turks, and Turkey is home to an Uighur community.

"Turkey, stand by your brothers," read a banner at the protest in Istanbul.

"We don't want a country like China, with a bad human rights record, to hold the Olympics, which symbolize humanity, peace and brotherhood," protester Hayrullah Efendigil said.

Police outnumbered the protesters and hemmed them in, making it difficult for them to move around freely. Some tourists photographed the group.


In the late 1990s, the Chinese leadership exerted strong pressure on Turkey to silence and withdraw any government support for these advocates in an effort that was said to be largely successful.