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Uighur musician 'tortured to death in China camp', campaigners claim

12 February 2019

The video was released following condemnation from Turkey, which described China's internment camps as "concentration camps", saying they were "a great cause of shame for humanity".

Speaking at a daily news briefing in Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said the video showed Heyit was not only alive, but in very good health, and that Turkey's statements were "extremely mistaken and irresponsible".

In the statement, Aksoy mentioned the alleged death of 57-year-old Abdurehim Heyit, a well-known Uighur singer and poet.

While Turkey and China broadly have good relations, Aksoy said he was responding to the death of Heyit in a Chinese jail.

Turkish foreign ministry spokesman Hami Aksoy said: "The systematic assimilation policy of Chinese authorities towards Uighur Turks is a great embarrassment for humanity".

The musician says he is "in the process of being investigated for allegedly violating national laws".

Mr Aksoy was referring to China's mass incarceration of the Muslim Uyghur minority situated in the north-western province of Xinjiang - a region incorporated into modern China after leaders of the East Turkestan Republic surrendered to the Chinese Communist Party in 1949.

Though Muslim majority countries have so far refused to voice their concerns over the treatment of their co-religionists, Turkey's public reprimand of Beijing has been met with criticism.

A United Nations panel of experts has said that almost one million Uighurs and other Turkic-speaking minorities had been herded into "re-education camps" in China's northwestern Xinjiang region, where most of the country's more than 10 million Uighurs live. He gives the date of the video and says he has "never been abused".

That statement had come in response to a question about recent reports that Heyit had died while in Chinese detention, having been "sentenced to eight years in prison for one of his songs". The Turkic Muslim group, which makes up around 45 percent of Xinjiang's population, has long accused China's authorities of cultural, religious and economic discrimination.

"The Chinese Foreign Ministry's response to the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs: the allegations are outrageous, we have an official initiative", the tweet read.

China National Petroleum (CNPC) has unveiled plans to invest more than $22 billion by 2020 in oil and gas operations in the western parts of Xinjiang, home to almost 13 million Muslims.

China's "re-education" camps: China denied the existence of the so-called "re-education" facilities for months before announcing they were training centers to stop the spread of terrorism and extremism following ethnic riots in 2009 and terrorist attacks in Xinjiang and elsewhere.

Uighur musician 'tortured to death in China camp', campaigners claim