Hundreds of East Turkistan supporters on Sunday gathered near the Chinese consulate in Sarıyer, Istanbul, responding to the call of the International Union of East Turkistan NGOs.
In response to the call from the International Union of East Turkistan NGOs, hundreds of East Turkistan supporters gathered near the Chinese consulate in Sarıyer, Istanbul. Their fervent appeal for the Islamic world's support in seeking independence from Chinese occupation, which has endured for 74 years, echoed through the demonstration.
Despite persistent heavy rainfall, protesters wielded banners and placards condemning China and championing the freedom of East Turkistan. They stood unwavering, refusing to abandon their positions even in adverse weather conditions. The intensity of the gathering escalated as the Chinese flag was burned during the protest.
Addressing the crowd, Hidayet Oğuzhan, President of the International East Turkistan NGOs Union, underscored their unwavering commitment to condemning the ongoing massacres and assimilation efforts in East Turkistan. Oğuzhan expressed deep concern that the genocide and crimes against humanity perpetrated against the people of East Turkistan showed no signs of abating.
"Until our people achieve freedom and independence, until China withdraws from East Turkistan, the genocides, human rights violations, concentration camps, and all acts of violence by China will persist. Consequently, we assert our collective will, both as a people and through our organizations," declared Oğuzhan.
Providing historical context, Oğuzhan stated, "Seventy-four years ago on October 1, communist China forcefully annexed East Turkistan, dismantling its state institutions and military. The region was subsequently designated as the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. Since 1974, China has systematically initiated a policy of genocide and Chineseization in East Turkistan, marked by atrocities occurring at ten-year intervals. Despite this, our people have resolutely resisted, preserving their national and Islamic identity."
He continued his remarks as follows: "Our people have steadfastly resisted China's attempts to alter East Turkistan's demography, silence the call to prayer, demolish mosques, and undermine the honor of our daughters. Through years of struggle, we have preserved our national identity and culture."
Oğuzhan passionately appealed to the Islamic world and Turkic republics, urging them to rally behind the cause of East Turkistan. He emphasized that East Turkistan should be viewed no differently than other regions in need of international solidarity, such as Karabakh, Palestine, Istanbul, Ankara, Mosul, Kirkuk, Samarkand, and Tashkent.
The protest also witnessed condemnation directed at the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality for celebrating October 1 as the anniversary of China's founding, a date many view as the onset of East Turkistan's occupation.
Expressing disapproval, Burhan Kavuncu, President of Turkistan-Der, stated, "We remember October 1 as the anniversary of this inhumane occupation. Despite this, there are those who celebrate it as China's founding day. We condemn the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality and other cities, regardless of their political affiliations, that have declared sister city relationships with various Chinese cities on October 1. They are complicit in genocide."
Gülbahar Celilova, a Uighur-origin citizen of Kazakhstan who engaged in trade for 20 years and stated that she spent 1 year, 3 months, and 10 days in Chinese prisons during her business trip to East Turkistan, recounted her experiences, saying, "On May 22, 2017, they arrested me at the hotel where I was staying. My crime was being Muslim and Uighur. When they interrogated me, they asked why I went to Turkey. They treat all Uighurs going from Türkiye as terrorists. That's why they treated me as a terrorist too. They sentenced me to death and issued a Chinese ID for me. They wrote my name and surname in Chinese so my relatives in Kazakhstan couldn't find me. I stayed with women aged 14 to 80. I saw them killing women; after injecting them with drug and knocking them out, they stole their organs. I witnessed this with my own eyes, and I have the names of 67 women. Pressure, rape, and torture happened to me too.” (ILKHA)
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