Uighur children alone in Turkey as parents arrested in China

More than 30 Uighur children in Turkey are without one or both of their parents after they were arrested and taken to camps by Chinese authorities during visits to their homeland, AFP reported on Tuesday.

Since ethnic riots in Xinjiang in 2009, China has increased the police presence in the Muslim region and established what it calls re-education camps for detained Uighurs. China says the Uighurs are being educated in camps designed to combat Islamic extremism.

Some 26 children from a special school in Istanbul, where more than 100 Uighur children study their language and culture, have lost one parent to the camps, while seven have lost both parents, AFP said, citing the head of the school Habibullah Kuseni.

"Having fled a worsening crackdown on Uighur Muslims in northwest China, some of their parents thought it was still safe to return occasionally for business and to visit family, only to disappear into a shadowy network of re-education camps from which no communication is permitted," AFP said.

Turkey is host to a long-standing community of Uighurs, who speak a Turkic language.

Turkey said in March that China’s Uighur camps were a great shame for humanity and called on the international community to help shut them down. But the Turkish government has since remained largely silent on the issue.