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Uyghur women protest against Chinese camps on International Woman's Day

ISTANBUL, TURKEY - MARCH 8: Uighur Turks living in Istanbul stage a demonstration against human rights violations in East Turkistan and China's violent acts against Uighur women near China's Consulate General on the International Women's Day, in Istanbul, Turkey on March 8, 2021. ( Esra Bilgin - Anadolu Agency )
Uighur Turks living in Istanbul stage a demonstration against human rights violations in East Turkistan and China's violent acts against Uighur women near China's Consulate General on the International Women's Day, in Istanbul, Turkey on March 8, 2021 [Esra Bilgin/Anadolu Agency]

Hundreds of Uyghur women took to the streets of Istanbul on International Women's Day yesterday to protest against China's detention camps in the country's Xinjiang region.

According to local media, the protesters gathered in front of China's Consulate chanting "Stop the genocide" and "Close the camps".

International Lawyer and human rights activist Gulden Sonmez told a press conference, "We are the voice for the Uyghur women. We are against the genocide."

China's Xinjiang region – East Turkistan – is home to around ten million Uyghurs. The Turkic Muslim group, which makes up around 45 per cent of Xinjiang's population, has long accused the Chinese authorities of cultural, religious and economic discrimination.

China has stepped up its restrictions on the region over the past two years, banning men from growing beards and women from wearing veils and introducing what many experts see as the world's most extensive electronic surveillance programme.

Up to one million people, or about seven per cent of the Muslim population in Xinjiang, have been incarcerated in an expanding network of "political re-education" camps, according to US officials and UN experts.

A 2018 Human Rights Watch report detailed a Chinese government campaign of "mass arbitrary detention, torture, forced political indoctrination, and mass surveillance of Xinjiang's Muslims."

China has repeatedly denied allegations that it is operating detention camps in its north-western autonomous region, claiming instead that they are "re-educating" Uyghurs.

READ: China's treatment of Uyghurs is genocide, Dutch parliament says

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