07/11/2009, 00.00
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Erdogan: Xinjiang is "nearly genocide." But the Islamic world remains cautious

The Turkish premier wants to push the UN Security Council to address the crisis in Xinjiang. But Beijing could block it. The Turkish foreign minister calls for a boycott of Chinese goods. Demonstrations of Uyghurs in Istanbul, Canberra, Holland, Germany. Nothing new from the Organisation of Islamic Conferences or Iran.
Ankara (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The Islamic world feels little solidarity it seems, with fellow believers in Xinjiang. Among governments, however, Turkey has distinguished itself. Yesterday, Premier Recep Tayyip Erdoğan defined what is happening in China as "nearly genocide." The Turkish prime minister made this statement at the end of the G8 in L'Aquila, where the heads of nations did not mention events in Xinjiang at all, though President Hu Jintao cancelled his presence at the summit as a result of the demonstrations and subsequent clashes between Uyghurs and police and between Han and Uyghurs in recent days.

"On the one hand - said Erdogan - we talk about universal human rights, but on the other hand, we have to witness something like this." Stating that he has expressed his concerns to the heads of state and ministers of the G8, the Turkish premier added: "I have used the word ‘atrocity’ before…… no other word can describe a situation which is nearly genocide in which hundreds have been killed and more than 1,000 others wounded".

Erdogan also said that Turkey is considering putting the issue of the Uyghurs on the agenda of the Security Council, but it is almost certain that China would block the step, it being a permanent member of the Council and stating that Xinjiang is an internal problem.

In the Islamic  world there are some demonstrations in favour of the Uyghurs. Yesterday in Istanbul about 5 thousand people demonstrated in front of the Fatih mosque after Friday prayers shouting "No to ethnic cleansing” and burning Chinese products. Two days ago, Nihat Ergun, the Turkish trade minister called on his fellow countrymen to boycott Chinese goods. The population of Turkey has historical, linguistic and ethnic bonds with the Uyghurs.

The demonstrations and protests worldwide that have occurred in recent days are all due to the exiled Uyghur community.  In Canberra (Australia) 200 people gathered in front of the parliament shouting "death to Chinese terrorists".   In Holland, in The Hague other exiled Uyghurs launched stones against the Chinese embassy; other exiles in Berlin staged a sit-in in front of the embassy.

Many ordinary Muslim people have expressed sorrow for what is happening in Xinjiang, but governments are being lukewarm in their reactions.

The Organization of Islamic Conferences has condemned the use of "disproportionate" force and called on China for an "honest" inquiry into the incidents.

The Iranian foreign minister, Manuchehr Muttaki said that he will telephone his Chinese counterpart to discuss the situation in Xinjiang with him.

China is the main trading partner of the Arab countries, surpassing the United States. Between 2004 and 2008 trade between China and Arab countries came to about 100 billion dollars.

Beijing has also long secured the friendship of Saudi Arabia and Iran. China has increasingly large economic ties with them, with its ever-growing need for oil. In return, Beijing has become their advocate in the international community, putting a stop to certain points of the UN embargo against Tehran and willingly closing a eye on the world’s criticism of Saudi Arabia’s human rights record.

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