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Turkey, UK raise China’s ‘mistreatment’ of Uighurs Muslims in UN Right Council meeting

NEW YORK: Turkey and Britain have raised the issue of China’s alleged mistreatment of Uighurs and other Muslims in Xinjiang region.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu called on Beijing to protect freedom of religion and cultural identity.

The issue came up as UN Human Rights Council opened its main annual session. Diplomats and activists say China has lobbied hard to avoid scrutiny over its policies in Xinjiang and other rights issues at the four-week meeting.

Western countries are looking to Turkey and other members of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to spotlight what rights groups call internment camps in Xinjiang, a remote western region of China. China says they are re-education and training facilities that have been highly successful in stopping attacks previously blamed on Islamist militants and separatists.

Britain was the only country joining Turkey in raising the issue at Monday’s session, where Lord Ahmad, minister of state at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, said: “We are deeply concerned about the persecution of Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang”.

UN experts and activists say the camps hold a million Uighurs, who speak a Turkic language, and other Muslims. China has denied accusations of mistreatment and deems criticism within the UN council to be interference in its sovereignty.

Cavuslogu did not specifically mention mass detention camps but he told the Geneva forum that reports of human rights violations against Uighurs and other Muslims in Xinjiang were serious cause for concern.