China arrests 10 Turks for helping Uighur Muslims to flee

China has arrested 10 Turkish citizens and nine Uighurs over a plot to smuggle the members of the ethnic minority out of the country, a state-run newspaper reported

China arrests 10 Turks for helping Uighur Muslims to flee

World Bulletin/News Desk

Police in Shanghai have arrested 10 Turkish nationals suspected of supplying fake passports to ethnic Uighurs from China's far-western region of Xinjiang (East Turkestan) who were described as terror suspects by state media.

Hundreds of people have been killed in resource-rich Xinjiang, strategically located on the borders of central Asia, in violence in the past two years between the Muslim Uighur people who call the region home and ethnic majority Han Chinese.

Another 11 people, including nine Xinjiang "terror suspects", were also detained in November while trying to leave China after paying 60,000 yuan ($9,700) for altered Turkish passports, the state-run Global Times newspaper reported.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei did not elaborate on the case but told a news conference on Wednesday the report was "extremely accurate".

The Turkish embassy in Beijing did not respond to requests for information about the case.

In October, Malaysian authorities detained 155 Uighurs in Kuala Lumpur who were carrying Turkish passports suspected to be fake.

Separately, authorities in Xinjiang announced that people buying fireworks for Chinese New Year would have to register using their ID cards, the China Daily reported late on Tuesday.

The move was meant to prevent suspects from obtaining raw materials to make explosives, it quoted Li Jianghui, an official with Xinjiang's work safety department, as saying.

Fireworks shops must record the variety and number of products bought by each customer, he said.

Repression

Beijing has blamed a series of recent attacks on 'separatists' from East Turkestan (Xinjiang), where information is often difficult to verify independently.

Rights groups accuse China's government of cultural and religious repression they say fuels unrest.

There was no explanation given for why the Uighurs sought to leave by air from Shanghai, rather than crossing a land border.

Recent months have seen a series of reports about Uighurs fleeing China, and Beijing has repeatedly put pressure on other countries to forcibly return them - regardless of any suspected terror ties.

Many Uighurs say they routinely encounter discrimination in China, including in finding housing and employment as well as in applying for Chinese passports.

Last Mod: 14 Ocak 2015, 12:03
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