May 24, 2023
Uyghur groups have condemned the statement made by Turkish Interior Minister Sulayman Soylu, who said in an interview with CNN Türkiye on May 22 that the US is trying to exert control over Turkey’s domestic politics and pressure China through the Uyghurs. His remarks, reported by the Uyghur edition of Uyghur Time, sparked immense criticism and strong backlash from the Uyghur diaspora worldwide.
The minister, known for his mostly anti-U.S. remarks, stated in the interview that the U.S. sees the Uyghur Turks as a point of contention between China, the United States, and Turkey. He claimed that the U.S. is using the Uyghurs in Turkey as a game to create an anti-Chinese policy, which he believes is a long-term U.S. political strategy.
The World Uyghur Congress issued a statement expressing regret that Minister Soylu has politicized the Uyghur genocide during national elections. They emphasized that the human rights violations committed by China should concern everyone, including Turkey, and that this issue should not be used to advance political agendas but be recognized as a human issue.
The Campaign for Uyghurs (CFU) also expressed deep sadness over Minister Süleyman Soylu’s recent comments on the plight of Uyghurs and the Uyghur community in Turkey. CFU’s Executive Director, Rushan Abbas, stated that the suffering of the Uyghurs under the Chinese Communist Party is a tragic reality that demands immediate global action. She emphasized that support for the Uyghurs has been built through years of advocacy, and their cause is about human rights and dignity.
Turkey hosts one of the largest Uyghur diaspora communities in the world, with approximately 50,000 Uyghurs who have fled the oppressive regime in China.
After the news broke out, an Istanbul-based pro-Erdogan Islamist Uyghur group called the International Union of East Turkistan Organizations (IUETO) criticized the U.S. as a game player against Turkey. This group, led by Hidayat Oghuz, a close ally of Sulayman Soylu, waged a social media campaign blaming Uyghur groups who condemned Soylu’s comments on the Uyghur genocide as being part of an American game.
The Uyghur American Association is appalled by and unequivocally condemns the remarks made by Turkey’s Interior Minister Sulayman Soylu, who stated in an interview with CNN Turk on May 22 that the horrific genocide faced by our people is merely a game orchestrated by the United States.
Soylu, a staunch ally of President Erdogan, has previously made extreme comments, such as claiming that the whole world hates America, which were widely disseminated by Chinese state media.