“This is my sister, I don’t know where she is, if she’s still alive,” Medin Nizami says, holding a picture with the text “Where is my sister?” Others carry pictures of brothers, fathers and grandparents. Concentration camps.
Medin’s sister studied at a university in Istanbul. She was arrested four years ago after returning to Xinjiang to help her ailing mother. “We are not criminals. My sister speaks four languages and does not need a re-education camp,” Median said.
Targeting the Uyghurs
This time, the Uyghurs are not only directing their protest to China, but also to the Turkish government. News of the treaty between China and Turkey shaken among the Uyghur community. It is clear to them that China is targeting the Uyghur community with this treaty. There are many Uyghurs in Turkey on temporary residence permits.
“If Turkey agrees to the treaty, I fear the worst,” said Mirzmet Iliasoglu, one of the protest organizers. Under this treaty, Turkey must hand over Chinese passport holders suspected of criminal activity. “We learned a long time ago that China already considers us suspicious because we are Uyghurs.”
The owner of a small Uyghur library in the Zeytinburnu region said that pressure on Uighurs in Turkey has increased recently. He says he regularly receives threatening phone calls. “Of the people who work for the Chinese intelligence services. They pressured me by naming my relatives who are still in China. They ask me to work for them.”
His store is full of books banned in China. Books on Uyghur history, books on Islam. This is how he wants to keep the Uyghur culture alive. “Almost all writers are here in a prison in China.”