Turkey expects China to protect the cultural identities of Uyghurs and other Muslims, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said Monday.
"We encourage Chinese authorities and expect that universal human rights, including freedom of religion, are respected and full protection of the cultural identities of the Uighurs and other Muslims is ensured," Çavuşoğlu said at the 40th Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Switzerland’s Geneva.
Many refer to China's Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region -- home to many ethnic minorities, including the Turkic Uyghur people -- as East Turkestan.
They believe Uyghurs are among a number of Turkic tribes that inhabit the region, and consider it to be a part of Central Asia, not China.
Uyghurs, a Turkic ethnic group that make up 45 percent of the population of Xinjiang, accuse China of carrying out repressive policies that restrain their religious, commercial and cultural activities.
Established under the pretext of “political reeducation” for China’s Muslim population, Beijing has amped up its construction of detention camps in the past three months, expanding them by an additional 700,000 square meters, according to satellite imagery.
China’s Muslim incarceration camps have attracted heavy criticism from the international community as Beijing continually denied their existence and repeatedly rejected allegations of abuses against the country’s Uyghur minority for years, opting to call them “vocational camps” instead.
Xinjiang region is home to around 10 million Uyghurs. The Turkic Muslim group which makes up around 45 percent of the population of Xinjiang, has long accused China’s authorities for cultural, religious and economic discrimination.