Türkiye demanded that China clarify the circumstances of the deadly fire that broke out in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, killing ten people.
“We are deeply saddened to learn that a fire which broke out in Urumqi, capital of the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region of the People’s Republic of China, caused loss of lives and injuries. We extend our condolences and wish a speedy recovery to the injured,” a Foreign Ministry statement said.
“We expect the reasons for the fire to be made public,” the ministry added.
Türkiye shares linguistic and religious links with the Uighur community. The region’s Muslim-majority population, which shares ethnic bonds with Türkiye, has long complained of oppression.
Chinese state media reported that at least ten people were killed and nine others injured when a fire broke out in a residential building in Urumqi.
The fire broke out in the building, reportedly under a coronavirus lockdown, and the firefighting teams arrived late due to barriers and cars blocking the road.
Since 1949, Beijing has controlled the region of East Turkestan, which is home to the Muslim Uighur Turks, and calls it Xinjiang.
Official UN reports say that China is holding about a million Uighur Muslims in secret camps in the region, which China denies.
The Uighur crisis became popular with the Turkish public after Chinese forces attacked Uighur demonstrators in Xinjiang, a week after then Turkish President Abdullah Gul visited China in 2009.
The Prime Minister at the time, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, condemned the Chinese suppression of the Uighurs, describing the actions as an “almost genocide,” angering Chinese authorities and almost leading to a severing of relations between the two nations.
However, the crisis did not prevent the two countries from signing a strategic partnership agreement in 2010.