FM: China dismisses claim Uygur man died in Xinjiang vocational center as ridiculous
Updated 21:56, 11-Feb-2019

China has lodged serious representations to Turkey on the issue concerning the country's foreign ministry's claim regarding the alleged death of a Uygur man, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said at Monday's regular press conference.

The allegedly dead man is still alive and in good health, Hua said, adding that Turkey's foreign ministry's claim is an irresponsible and ridiculous lie.

China Radio International (CRI) released a video earlier on its Turkish website showing that Abdurehim Heyit, the 57-year-old Uygur male musician is alive, which Hua said has self-evidently refuted Turkey's claim. 

She questioned the source of the Turkish foreign ministry's claim that Heyit died in a Xinjiang vocational center. 

The Chinese embassy in Turkey released a statement earlier saying Heyit was arrested on suspicion of endangering national security and his case is now under investigation.

With regard to China's Uygur policies, Hua claimed that China has taken many counter-terrorism and de-extremism measures in the region as it has faced grave terror threats since the 1990s which severely threaten the safety of all people in Xinjiang.

Hua stressed that Turkey, on the other hand, is also a victim of terrorism and extremism. China opposes double standards on counter-terrorism and hopes Turkey can correctly interpret China's policies so as to deepen mutual trust and cooperation.

She also touched upon the religious freedom situation in Xinjiang and stated that there are more than 24,400 mosques and eight religious institutes in Xinjiang, which has a Muslim population of over 13 million.

China has invited envoys and journalists from more than 10 countries, including Turkey, to visit Xinjiang's vocational education and training centers, Hua mentioned. These centers unite and educate those majority of people who commit crimes in the area. She urged international media outlets to objectively report on Xinjiang-related issues.

On Saturday, Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Hami Aksoy said Heyit died during his detention and cast the vocational programs as "torture and political brainwashing camps and prisons."

The Chinese embassy in Ankara responded quickly saying both accusations were false and urged the Turkish government to retract them.

On Sunday, the embassy reiterated that the vocational programs strictly abide by China's constitution and law in protecting human rights and that China respects citizens' freedom of religious belief and protects their normal religious activities.

CGTN reporter Cui Huiao also contributed to this article.

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(Cover: Updated photo features women in a vocational center in Xinjiang. /CGTN Photo)