Erdoğan: Incidents in China are “Genocide”

President Abdullah Gül, formerly Turkey’s chief diplomat, might have put it differently. But Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Turkey’s prime minister, is no great friend of subtleties when brothers and sisters are in trouble. “The incidents in China are, simply put, a genocide. There’s no point in interpreting this otherwise,” he said on Friday, according to Reuters. He also called on Chinese authorities to intervene “to prevent more deaths”.

Given Turkey’s own history, this was a smashing pitch from a man living in a glass house. Chinese people commit genocide, Israel’s president Shimon Peres is concealing his guilt, but Turkish and Armenian people have always lived harmoniously together?

As condemnable as China’s policies on its “national minorities” are – and it seems that only few Han Chinese would disagree with their government concerning those policies -, genocide is a label that only fits in exceptional situations – and Turkey is in denial when it comes to the genocide against the Armenians during World War 1.

Ankara’s position isn’t easy when it comes to Xinjiang. President Gül paid a visit to Xinjiang less than two weeks ago. Turkey’s foreign ministry, in an initial reaction to the 7-15  7-5 incident, sounded yet another chummy statement. Apparently, Erdoğan felt that after all this, the Turkish people expected some more clarity.

Maybe an “act of defiance”, like issuing a visa for Ms Rebiya Kadeer, would be more efficient – and coherent – than using overkill vocabulary. There is nothing wrong with helping the Uighurs maintaining some of their culture, and political will, at least abroad. But Erdoğan’s populism won’t help them.

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