Turkey rejects citizenship applications of Uyghurs

by Anne Kader

Turkish Government has left thousands of Uyghurs in administrative limbo by rejecting their citizenship, dozens of Uyghurs in Turkey told Uyghur Times.

According to them, their Chinese passports have expired or are about to expire. Turkey has not been willing to grant them citizenship or documents that would allow them to work.

An increasing number of Uyghurs have applied for immigrant status in Turkey through a limited citizenship program in 2020. Some have applied for full citizenship, and some for a second registration. Alimjan Turdi is one of them. After openly speaking about the disappearance of his family, the Population Bureau rejected his citizenship application. Now they label him as a dangerous person.

In the past two weeks, dozens of Uyghurs have received rejections of their applications. The reason given is that they are likely to obstruct public safety and national security. The Population Bureau ordered the applicants to resolve the issue through the courts.

In some cases, several family members received the same notice. Some of the recipients are school students.  They should now hire a lawyer to stand trial.  Alimjan Turdi, the Uyghur activist, tweeted: ‘Uyghurs cannot afford to invest $250,000 to obtain citizenship.’

Uyghurs are a Turkic-speaking major ethnic group from the Chinese occupied Uyghurland (a.k.a East Turkistan). Turkey has historically been a popular destination for Uyghurs. The two nations share a lot culturally and linguistically. In Turkey, Uyghurs have been able to live without persecution.

On 26 December 2020, the Turkish and Chinese governments ratified an extradition treaty, creating a way to send Uyghurs from Turkey back to  China. Turkish Parliament has not approved the bill yet. Several reports, however, exposed that Turkey has deported some Uyghurs back to China through Tajikistan. The authorities in Turkey had forced the Uyghurs to change their names.

Without a secure path to citizenship, many Uyghurs in Turkey are growing worried and choose to leave Turkey for Europe.

The Chinese communist regime has persecuted Uyghurs for seventy years since the illegal occupation of Uyghursland in 1949.  Since 2017 China has detained several million Uyghurs in political education camps without any legal process.

Uyghur Times (Uyghur edition) interviewed Dr. İlyas Doğan of Ankara Hacı Bayram Veli University.

“Those with a rejection of their application can ask for lawyers and courts to take up their cases. Applicants must submit an appeal within 60 days of the receipt of the notice.” The rejection note instructs family members to file their complaints separately and pay for them in dollars. This only increases the financial pressure on Uyghurs, many of whom are not allowed to work in Turkey.

(Image source: iUyghur)

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