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CALLED OUT

Turkey is calling for an end to the mass incarceration of Uighurs in China.

Word of the Day : Feb. 11, 2019

finicky

adjective  |  FIN-ih-kee

Definition

: extremely or excessively particular, exacting, or meticulous in taste or standards

If one wanted to say Uighurs out loud…

They would pronounce it like wee-gurs.

 

Thanks. What else should I know about them?

They're a Turkic ethnic group of mostly Sunni Muslims in the Xinjiang region of China. In 2009, riots erupted in Xinjiang's capital, killing almost 200 people. And in 2012, a group of Muslim men killed 12 people in the Xinjiang area. Since then, the Chinese gov has cracked down on Uighurs, saying they're connected to terrorists. And responded by restricting travel in the region and being wary of men who grow out their beards. Last year, a UN panel found that an estimated one million Uighurs or more have been detained in the Xinjiang region.

 

Concerning. What's China have to say?

That these camps provide job training and help fight extremism and terrorism.

 

What's everyone else have to say?

That they're reportedly forced labor camps. And people who've been released from them say the camps are being used to get Uighurs to kick their devotion to Islam to the curb.

 

You mentioned Turkey...

Yep. Turkey and China are close, so Turkey had been quiet about all this for a while. But Turkish President Recep Erdogan apparently sees himself as a defender of Muslims and especially Turkic people. Now, the country's describing the detention of Uighur Muslims as a "great shame for humanity" – a rare case of a Muslim-majority country speaking out against this.

 

Why the shift?

It's unclear. But Erdogan may be looking to take a stand on this before the country's local elections next month. Also, the country specifically mentioned the death of renowned Uighur folk poet and musician Abdurehim Heyit, who it said died in one of the detention centers. (Since then, reports have come out that Heyit is alive – but still incarcerated.) It's also calling China out for arresting Uighurs and subjecting them to "torture and political brainwashing."

 

I can't see China liking that.

Yeah, no. It says Turkey has it all wrong. And restated its claim that these "training" centers are necessary to fight terrorism.

 

Now what?

Last year, the UN called on China to release those detained in the centers. And some US lawmakers called for sanctions to punish the country for repressing its citizens. Now, Turkey's getting involved. But beyond acknowledging the problem, the international community has so far failed to stop China from holding an estimated 1 million people against their will.

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