In a statement on Saturday, Turkish foreign ministry spokesman Hami Aksoy said it’s “no longer a secret” that China has arbitrarily detained more than a million Uighurs in “concentration camps”.
He said the Turkic Muslim population faced pressure and “systematic assimilation” in western China.
“We invite Chinese authorities to respect fundamental human rights of the Uighur Turks and shut down concentration camps,” he said.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had once accused China of “genocide” but has since established closer diplomatic and economic relations with Beijing.
China’s Xinjiang region is home to around 10 million Uighurs. The Turkic Muslim group, which makes up around 45 percent of Xinjiang’s population, has long accused Chinese authorities of cultural, religious and economic discrimination.
Practising Islam is forbidden in some parts of China, with individuals caught praying, fasting, growing a beard or wearing a hijab, a headscarf worn by Muslim women, facing the threat of arrest.
China’s crackdown on the Uighurs has made headlines around the world.
In August last year, a United Nations panel of experts said it had received credible reports that over a million Uighurs and other Turkic language-speaking minorities were being held in so-called “re-education camps” where they are made to renounce Islam.