The Uyghur Muslim ethnic community in China, which has a large presence in Turkey, hailed the United States’ boycott of the Winter Olympics in Beijing and urged other countries to follow suit.
The White House said on Monday that US government officials will boycott the Winter Olympics due to China’s human rights “atrocities,” however US athletes would be allowed to compete.
Many Uyghurs live in Turkey, and Turks have ethnic, religious, and linguistic ties with them. Turkey is home to around 50,000 Uyghurs, making it the biggest Uyghur diaspora outside of Central Asia.
One 40-year-old Uyghur woman in Istanbul said she welcomed the U.S. action. “China these days is carrying out a genocide against Uyghur Turks as everyone knows, killing millions of people there,” said Amine Wayit, who spoke in Istanbul’s Zeytinburnu district where she sells Uyghur goods.
“In such a situation it is ridiculous to hold an Olympics there in China and in my view it is like pouring scorn on the whole world’s humanity,” she said. “It would be right for the whole world to stage a boycott, not just America.”
Chinese authorities reacted with anger to Washington’s move. The United States has betrayed Olympic principles and will have to “pay a price” for its diplomatic boycott of the Winter Games in Beijing, China said on Tuesday, as key Western allies hesitated in deciding whether to follow the U.S. lead.
U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration highlighted as the reason for its boycott what Washington calls genocide against minority Muslims in China’s far western region of Xinjiang.
China denies all rights abuses.
“I think this is the start of the reaction. Maybe other countries will afterwards join the boycott decision which America has launched,” said Abdusselam Teklimakan, a Uyghur who is chairman of the East Turkestan New Generation Movement group.
“This will increase the number of countries on the side of the East Turkestanis and weaken the hand of China.”