In 2009, Erdogan called Chinese repression of Uyghurs a “genocide,” drawing the wrath of Beijing and cementing his reputation as a defiant Muslim leader willing to speak truth to totalitarian power.
Yet Uyghur repression didn’t start with the camps. Even when Erdogan was in Xinjiang, many Uyghurs were trying to get out. They saw Erdogan’s visit as a gesture of solidarity. The Uyghurs are an ethnically Turkic people, and our language is closely related to Turkish. So moving to Turkey made sense, especially considering how the country offered Uyghurs asylum as early as 1952.
Unfortunately, what seemed like a good idea in 2012 turned out to be a false hope.
Gradually, a Turkish government that was supposed to offer them freedom is now raiding Uyghur homes, arresting hundreds of people, and coordinating deportations with Beijing.