Hakan Fidan: The Man Who Came to Urumqi with a Blue Tie

Türkiye’s Foreign Minister wore a tie with the colors of East Turkestan during his visit—but then he didn’t say much in favor of the Uyghurs.

by Rebiya Kadeer and Kok Bayraq

Hakan Fidan in East Turkestan (Xinjiang) with a blue tie. From X.

Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan wore a blue tie, the color of our flag of East Turkestan, during his visit to Urumqi and Kashgar on 4 and 5 June. Whether he wore it purposefully or unintentionally, we were happy about it. However, not a single sentence came out of his mouth that accurately reflected the reality of the Uyghurs.

During his visit, Fidan praised Urumqi city’s infrastructural development. Of course, China’s economic development is known to the whole world. We, the Uyghurs, have never denied this development. The point is that this development does not bring prosperity, peace, and happiness to the Uyghurs, but trouble and disaster.

Based on this economic power, China has established camps and prisons in 380 locations in East Turkestan and managed to detain more than three million Uyghurs. By taking advantage of this economic power, China was able to shut the mouth of the Turkish and Islamic world on the issue of the Uyghur genocide..

Fidan stated that the Uyghur language and culture are protected in the region. This was exactly the statement China was waiting for. Because this was another expression of Uyghur genocide denial. The current state of Uyghur language and culture is the remnant of China’s destruction. If something survives, it is not because of China’s mercy, but the result of the natural preservation function of language and culture. To destroy this function of Uygur culture, China, as a final solution, has brought the repressive actions that have been continuing since the occupation of the region to the level of genocide.

Of course, our hearts were warmed by Fidan’s embrace of Uyghur children, and his interaction with Uyghur grandfathers and grandmothers. However, we do not know whether Fidan was able to correctly understand the signals coming from the environment he encountered. As an example, why is the grandmother whose hand he kissed in Kashgar crying? When he says “Pray for me,” why does she bow her head without praying? If Fidan would have the opportunity to take a look at the “Xinjiang police files”, he would see tearful photos of thousands of mothers and fathers who were arrested just for praying.

Fidan with the non-praying grandmother. From X.

When Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, visited the Grand Bazaar in Urumqi in 2012, Uyghurs filled both sides of the street. While visiting the empty Grand Bazaar and Heytgah Mosque, Fidan should have asked Chinese officials: “Where did the crowds of Uyghurs go?” When he saw the high-rise buildings and huge factories in Urumqi, he might have asked, “What percentage of these property belong to the local people, that is, the Uyghurs?” But he didn’t. So, we did not feel the atmosphere of a diplomatic exchange between two equal states.

Speaking to China’s state television CCTV, Fidan defended China’s interests in a high tone by stating, “What we always say is this: we support China’s one-China policy, its territorial integrity, and its sovereignty.” When he referred to the Uyghur issue, he said, “Changing the perception of the world and the Islamic world regarding the cultural rights and lives of the Uyghurs here would be beneficial for China, for us, and for everybody.” This is a soft, round, vague voice that is not sufficient for a situation where a genocide is taking place. We do not think it suits the stance and seriousness that a statesman who is a leader of the Turkish-Islamic world should have.

Perhaps Fidan talked a little more clearly about us behind closed doors with his Chinese counterparts, as some media suggested—but this is not the right path, because the Uyghur genocide is being carried out in front of the eyes of the world.

There is sufficient evidence of this genocide in Turkey as well. If you interview 100 out of the 50,000 Uyghurs living in Turkey, 95 of them would declare that they have family members in prison. China has been holding Yahya Kurban and Amina Kurban, who became citizens of the Republic of Turkey 44 years ago, as hostages in their hometown of Kargılık County for seven years and they cannot return to Turkey. If Fidan had looked at the letters that Yahya Kurban’s daughter Hankız Kurban sent from Istanbul to Ankara, he would have noticed one of the tragedies behind the economic developments in Urumqi.

As co-author of this article and as the spiritual leader of the Uyghur people who do not bow to China, Rebiya Kadeer would like to convey her most sincere words to Fidan: “China sees kindness as weakness and giving in as cowardice. With such measures, Türkiye will not get what it hopes for, not only in foreign relations but also in trade with China. The grandmother in Kashgar could not pray for you, because she is not free. But I will, because I live in the free world—in the USA. May God protect the high interests of the Republic of Turkey!”