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Istanbul: Uyghur NGOs organised multiple meetings in Turkey on Saturday to commemorate the formation of the First (1933) and Second (1944) East Turkestan republics and reaffirm their resolve for independence.

The Uyghur community living in exile in Turkey celebrated the creation of the two short-lived republics with great enthusiasm as they turned out in large numbers.

East Turkestan Federation (Dogu Turkistanlilar Federasyonu) organized a meeting at 1:30 pm at Nihat Yuceur Sports Complex in Kemalpasa, Safakoy district, Istanbul. It saw over 2,000 attendees, including NGO representatives and community members, including women and children.

The speakers at the meeting included East Turkestan Federation leader Mahmud Amin Damollah, Uyghur Science and Marifet Foundation president Habibullah Koseini, president of East Turkestan National Assembly Seyit Tumturk and writer Kamer Artis. The speakers highlighted the ‘hunger genocide’ being perpetrated in East Turkestan by Chinese authorities in the garb of controlling the Covid-19 pandemic.

They also took a promise from the gathering that East Turkestan is our homeland and we will continue to strive and fight for its independence from Chinese ‘occupation’.

The International Union of East Turkestan NGOs led by chairman Hidayetullah Oghuzhan organized another gathering at Istanbul Beylikduzu Kaya Hotel & Convention Centre, which saw enthusiastic participation from the community, religious leaders/ Ulemas and Uyghur academics, among others.

Chairman Hidayetullah Oghuzhan spoke about the need to understand and highlight the Chinese ‘genocidal policy’ against Uyghurs and other ethnic groups.

He called upon the International community to increase its engagement with East Turkestan and that Uyghurs should continue to strive towards the formation of a sovereign Uyghur nation. The gathering was attended by around 800-900 persons.

Meanwhile, another East Turkestan Republic Commemoration meeting was organized by the Uyghur Science and Civilization Research Foundation, World Uyghur Congress Foundation, Uyghur Academy, East Turkestan Research Foundation and Isa Yusuf Alptekin Foundation at Canakaya, Ankara.

Among the participants were nearly 200 delegates comprising NGO representatives, politicians, academics and journalists. They included former Minister of State and Nationalist Movement Party leader, Faruk Bal, Good (IYI) Party Konya Deputy, Fahrettin Yokus, Deputy Chairman of Great Unity Party (BBP), Ali Keser, World Uyghur Congress spokesperson and Ankara University Prof. Dr Erkin Emet, Vice-President of World Uyghur Congress Foundation and Hacettepe University History Department lecturer, Dr Erkin Ekrem, World Uyghur Congress Foundation Deputy Chairman Dr Dilsat Barisci and several others.

Faruk Bal, a former minister of state spoke on the assimilation policies being followed by the Chinese regime adding, “In the 21st century, Uyghur Turks are being massacred in front of the eyes of the world…people are taken from their homes in groups….to camps only because they are Uyghur, Kazakh or Kyrgyz….and subjected to the most brutal tortures you can think of in the camps.”

“The East Turkestan issue is a national issue for our 85 million people living in Turkey…The East Turkestan issue is the issue of everyone who says..’I am a Muslim’, moreover, the East Turkestan issue is a human issue,” Farhettin Yokus, Good Party deputy said at the event, extending his support to the cause.

Dr Oghuzhan Aydin head of Turkish Language and Literature department at Ankara Yildirim Beyazit University said, “We should never be hopeless in our struggle for East Turkestan’s independence. Our goal is to perform the morning prayer on the Great Wall of China, our red apple.”

Istanbul Beykent University faculty member, Magfiret Kemal Yunusoglu, talked about the role of Uyghur women in the struggle for East Turkestan’s independence and also alleged torture on them in East Turkestan internment camps.

A panel discussion on ‘Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow and East Turkestan’ was organized at Baris Manco Kultur Merkezi, Bursa to discuss the ‘genocidal policy’ of China in East Turkestan. The programme was hosted by Bursa Yildrim Municipality and moderated by Dr Erdem Ozdemir from Bursa Uludag University. A presentation was also made on ‘East Turkestan Problem in International Law Framework and Attitude of States’.

While Abdulkadir Uyghur spoke about the ‘cruelties’ perpetrated by the Chinese authorities, the President of Yusuf Facedluler Association, Advocate Veysel Akin delved into Turkiye’s attitude towards the issue and what can be done.

Recently Turkiye Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu along with senior officials of the Turkish Directorate of Migration Management met with a high-level Chinese delegation consisting of Deputy Minister of Public Security of the People’s Republic of China, Du Hongwei, First Deputy Minister of Public Security of the Uyghur Autonomous Region, Pan Xi, Deputy Director General of the Anti-terrorism department of the Ministry of Public Security of China, Gao Fei, and Chinese Ambassador to Ankara, Liu Shaobin.

The meeting sparked concerns and drew criticism from the Uyghur community and its leaders that the Chinese agenda were aimed at restricting Uyghur activities in Turkiye, which may lead to the extradition of Uyghurs on the pretext of their being involved in criminal activities.

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