By Uyghur Reporter
The Uyghur diaspora is still in shock and uncertainty after a delegation of high-level Chinese police and security officials visited their Turkish counterparts in a closed-door meeting in Turkiye.
The timing of the meeting was very sensitive, as it came right after the Canadian Parliament had discussed and passed a bill to accept 10,000 Uyghur refugees.
On November 3, 2022, The Turkish Interior Ministry shared a photo on Twitter of Sulayman Soylu, the Turkish Interior minister, who met Du Hongwei, the Deputy Minister of Public Security of the People's Republic of China. The delegation of the Chinese public security officials also included Pan Xi, the First Deputy Minister of Public Security of the Uyghur Autonomous Region, Gao Fei, Deputy Director General of the Anti-Terrorism Department of the Ministry of Public Security of China, and Liu Shaobin, the Chinese Ambassador to Ankara.
According to Reuters, an estimated 50,000 Uyghurs live in Turkey, the largest Uyghur diaspora outside Central Asia.
It was noteworthy that Chinese Public Security officials in the Uyghur homeland and officials of the Anti-Terrorism Department of the Chinese Ministry of Public Security were part of the Chinese delegation.
Deputy Minister of Interior İsmail Çataklı and Deputy General Managers of Security Ahmet Şengün and Resul Holoğlu, Director General of Combating Irregular Migration and Deportation Affairs of the Directorate of Migration Management Ramazan Seçil and Head of EU and Foreign Relations Department Sezer Işıktaş were also present at the reception.
Turkish migration administration officials, who administer the Uyghur refugees in Turkiye, attended the meeting.
Major fear: Secret deportations to China
Since the meeting took place behind closed doors, neither side disclosed the topics covered in the high-level bilateral security summit. Given the nature of the relations between the two countries, and the background of the delegations from both sides, it is clear that the topic is related to Uyghur refugees in Turkiye.
Abdulla Qarim, an Uyghur scholar of Islam, based in Istanbul, told Uyghur Times that “the Uyghurs in Turkiye are split into many groups. Some follow and support East Turkistan organizations that get their directions from the current Turkish government. Most of them have received Turkish citizenship and feel safe staying in Turkiye. However, Uyghurs who are not part of these groups and act independently are in danger of deportation to China at any moment, as are Uyghurs who have no relatives in Turkiye.", Qarim said.
Turkish Parliament blocked an extradition bill with China proposed by the ruling Justice and Development party that requires the deportation of suspects from both sides. The bill mainly targets Uyghur refugees living in Turkiye since there are very few Han Chinese residents in the country.
Umun Ihsan, an Uyghur political commentator based in Paris, said on his Facebook account that: “This may be the first sign of danger for the Uyghur diaspora in Turkiye. The occurrence of the second 'Egyptian incident' in Turkiye (which saw Uyghurs deported from Egypt to China in 2017) would be at an immense cost to Uyghurs.
Abdurehim Tohti, an Uyghur based in Istanbul, Turkiye, said: “It is worrisome that the Turkish authorities have registered many Uyghurs and promised them citizenship. Then the Canadian Parliament discussed giving asylum to 10,000 Uyghurs. Subsequently, a Chinese police delegation came to Turkiye, which worries every Uyghur.”
Based on the accounts of people who work on issues related the Uyghur refugees, at least 1,000 Uyghurs have escaped from Turkiye in the last three years, especially after the news broke out that Turkiye deported some Uyghurs such as Zinnetgul Tursun, to China. There they might be tortured, detained, and even killed.
Uyghur Times documents how seven Uyghurs died during their escape from Turkiye to Europe. The latest was the case of Shirali Ablajan, an Uyghur male of 20, who died in the lake of Kemanji in Slovenia after he escaped Turkiye on October 24.