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Improved Turkish-Chinese ties come at a cost to Uighurs

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s rhetoric on protecting Uighurs' human rights has become subdued as he attempts to lure Chinese investment and other funds to Turkey.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and China's President Xi Jinping inspect an honour guard during a welcome ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, July 2, 2019. Picture taken July 2, 2019. Roman Pilipey/Pool via REUTERS - RC17B3CEB130

Fatima, a Uighur in her early 30s, believes that she can no longer conceive children because she was involuntarily sterilized while held for more than a year in a Chinese-government-run detention camp, where she unknowingly ingested pills that made her infertile. When she was taken to the camp, her two kids were placed in orphanages, she told Al-Monitor through tears. Fatima is lucky that she left the camp alive.

The Uighurs are a Turkic people who share a common linguistic, ethnic and religious identity with the ethnic Turks of today's Turkey. They originated in the region they continue to call East Turkestan, which the Communist Chinese renamed Xinjiang after taking control in 1949.

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