China releases video of Uighur musician to 'disprove his death'

Abdurehim Heyit

The Chinese embassy in Turkey said in a statement that the poet, 57-year-old Abdurehim Heyit, had been arrested for suspected crimes violating state security and was in good health.

"The policy of systematic assimilation against the Uighur Turks carried out by the authorities of China is a great shame for humanity", Turkish foreign ministry spokesman Hami Aksoy said in a statement on Saturday. Turkish media claimed he was tortured to death in a so-called re-education camp in China's Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region.

Beijing has faced an outcry from activists, scholars, foreign governments and United Nations rights experts over what they call mass detentions and strict surveillance of the mostly Muslim Uighur minority and other Muslim groups who live predominantly in a region claimed by Uighurs in China, which they call East Turkistan and is home to some 10 million people, most of whom are Muslim.

Beijing has intensified its clampdown on what it labels terrorism in the region, following a 2009 riot in Xinjiang capital Urumqi that killed hundreds.

Beijing says the "vocational education centers" help people steer clear of terrorism and allow them to be reintegrated into society.

He added the Uighurs are being subjected to "torture and political brainwashing in internment camps and prisons".

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"Uighurs who are not detained in these camps are under heavy pressure".

Turkey's response follows the death in detention of Uighur poet and musician Abdurehim Heyit, which Aksoy said was a tragedy that had "reinforced the reaction of the Turkish public opinion towards serious human rights violations committed in the Xinjiang region".

Compared to China's ethnically homogenous Han majority, Uyghurs are an ethnic group of Turkic origins who have been slowly outnumbered since widescale Han migration to Xinjiang began after 1949.

"A major outcry among the Muslim world was a key missing piece in the global Xinjiang row", he said.

"China has already made solemn representations toward Turkey".

Released detainees said they have received indoctrination in Communist Party slogans, little food, beatings and were forced to work.

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