China releases video it says proves reports of Uighur poet's death untrue

Cheryl Sanders
February 12, 2019

The video was released following condemnation from Turkey, which described China's internment camps as "concentration camps", saying they were "a great cause of shame for humanity".

State-owned China Radio International on Sunday released a brief video clip of Heyit dated Feb 10.

Foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said the video of Abdurehim Heyit issued by state media showed Turkey's statement was an "absurd lie".

He also said he had been informed of the death of famed Uighur musician and poet Abdurehim Heyit, who was serving eight years in jail over one of his songs.

Beijing faces growing global pressure over its so-called "de-radicalization" program in its far western province.

"The re-emergence of concentration camps in the 21st century and China's systematic assimilation policy toward Uighur Turks are great embarrassment for humanity", Aksoy said.

"I'm in the process of being investigated for allegedly violating the national laws", he says directly to the camera.

Mr Aksoy was referring to China's mass incarceration of the Muslim Uyghur minority situated in the north-western province of Xinjiang - a region incorporated into modern China after leaders of the East Turkestan Republic surrendered to the Chinese Communist Party in 1949.

"This is a big deal: [Turkey is] The first Muslim-majority country to criticize China so directly for its horrendous treatment of Uighur Muslims, and one of the most powerful Muslim-majority countries at that", Kenneth Roth, the head of Human Rights Watch, said on Twitter.

The Turkish Foreign Ministry on Saturday called on China to close its detention centres for Muslims, saying the camps said to hold almost a million ethnic Uighurs and other Turkic-language speaking minorities are a "great shame for humanity".

Turkey had over the weekend released a statement demanding Beijing close its Muslim internment camps, and said Mr Heyit had died in detention.

Their language is close to Turkish and a significant number of Uighurs have fled to Turkey from China in recent years.

"Even if it is the case that he is alive and that China seems to be scoring a point [by] calling out Turkey ... then that should not obscure the fact that he's being held incommunicado, which itself encourages these kind of rumours flying around."

She said envoys and journalists from more than 10 countries were invited to visit Xinjiang's vocational education and training centers last month.

Rights groups say Uighurs, Kazakhs and other Muslim minorities are being detained indefinitely without charge for infractions like refusing to give a DNA sample, speaking in a minority language, or arguing with officials.

"We hope the relevant Turkish persons can distinguish between right and wrong and correct their mistakes".

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