Just like in the Iranian case, it’s hard to get healthy information from the region. However, during the weekend at least 156 people were killed, according to official Chinese news agencies. Hundreds were wounded, including women and children.
Some Uighur Turks who could reach Turkish television channels argue that the death toll could be much higher. "More than 1,000 people are killed. The streets are full of bodies," an Uighur Turk said Wednesday.
The conflict between Uighur Turks and Chinese is not new. For years, Uighur Turks have been complaining of ill treatment and have been calling for international support to stop it. Some prominent figures of the Uighur community were sent into exile as they were seen as a potential threat to the unity of the one of world’s largest countries.
As President Abdullah Gül put it on Tuesday, Uighur Turks constitute an important bridge between Turkey and China. "We come from the same roots as the Uighur Turks and believe in the same religion. Nobody, including the Chinese administration, denies it," Gül said.
He conveyed the same messages during his weeklong visit to China last month where he also visited Urumqi, the capital of the Xinjiang autonomous region.
Though some nationalist and Islamist groups were putting pressure on consecutive Turkish governments to change its official policy, Turkey has never ceased to support China’s territorial integrity and political unity. But that does not mean that it will remain silent to the plight of the Uighur Turks.
"The Uighurs are a community of ethnic brothers whose fate concerns us. There is a humanitarian situation there that requires the world's attention. It is out of the question for Turkey to remain indifferent," Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu stated yesterday. His statement came a few hours after the Foreign Ministry summoned the top Chinese diplomat in Ankara to express Turkey’s concerns about the incidents.
Though, as the Daily News, we support the government’s move in this particular case, we still have the right to ask why it did not follow the same course during the Iranian riots. Is it that an Islamic country can use this sort of violence on its own people? Should Turkey react only to non-Islamic countries that use disproportionate force against Muslim minorities?
That perhaps explains why the government was silent toward the Sudanese administrations’ massacres in Darfur while it became the champion of anti-Israeli feelings during the Gaza brutality. As a matter of principle, the government should use a universal criterion in such cases. And that should simply be human rights.