Prague. 26 April. Caucasus Times. Ankara accused Beijing of mass repressions and oppressions of Muslims living in the People’s Republic of China. In addition, Recep Tayyip Erdogan criticized counterparts from other countries for their inaction. It seems that again Erdogan began trying to take on the role of “defender of all Turks” despite the risk of remaining in complete isolation due to his imperialistic manners.
At first glance, Erdogan’s ‘righteous wrath’ looks very noble if someone does not know about mass repressions in Turkey itself and does not remember that the Turkish leader loudly protect Muslims of the whole world every time it is necessary to divert public attention from something more critical. What are “generous” impulses of the Turkish president connected with this time?
So, let’s start from the beginning. The Turkish Foreign Ministry accused Beijing of creating prisons and “political correctional camps” for Uighurs (as well as for Kazakhs and other Muslim minorities). Representatives of Beijing called all Ankara’s accusations ‘disgusting lies’. They also said that news about the death of poet Abdurekhim Hayit is ‘dirty rumors’. To prove that, the Chinese authorities showed recent recordings of the poet’s speeches on YouTube.
The President of Turkey ignored these arguments. According to the established political tradition, Recep Tayyip Erdogan avoided any discussions with his partners and displayed uncompromising stubbornness. He began to publicly express his outrage in his aggressive manner against oppressions of Muslims all over the world, particularly in China.
Also, the Turkish leader did not miss the opportunity to reproach some world politicians for connivance and restraint in regard to this case.
Recently, a lot is being said about the so-called ‘correctional camps’ in China. China does not deny that there are such camps, but questions aggressive nature of their correctional methods. In addition to Turkey, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan have also expressed their concerns regarding these camps.
A year ago, a person was found in Kazakhstan who was kept in one of such ‘correctional camps’. He said that only in Kashgar, one of the counties of the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region (XUAR), there are at least 3,000 imprisoned people.
This information seriously disturbed the Kazakh authorities. Following a president’s order, the country’s foreign ministry began urgent negotiations with Chinese colleagues. But the truth is that only private affairs of individuals were considered as it appeared that there were not many such cases. According to the Chinese side, some ethnic Kazakhs were indeed detained, but not for nothing. They were detained for violation of Chinese state border crossing regulations.
In the middle of August of 2018, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China organized a trip for representatives of Kazakhstan to XUAR. The Kazakh delegation had an opportunity to personally observe what was happening. As a result of the trip, several people were released from political correctional camps. This way, the conflict was resolved by means of diplomacy without harming bilateral relations between Kazakhstan and China.
Why is the Turkish leader worried about the citizens of other countries more than of those of his own country? Why has Erdogan chosen such a strategy? And why for the sake of this strategy is he not afraid to quarrel with an important economic partner although his country is undergoing difficult times?
Alas, answers to all these questions are much more trivial than they may seem to be. Recep Tayyip Erdogan is an extremely pragmatic politician. He does not do or say anything for no particular reason. In this particular case, his speeches are a routine red herring. Local elections will be held in Turkey on March, 31st. People will elect local governors, mayors, members of regional parliaments, state councils, heads of municipalities, village and district elders and members of village councils. It would seem that the level of the elections is not that significant. As a rule, local elections in Turkey do not attract much attention. But not this time. In the current economic and geopolitical conditions, the local elections are in fact a referendum of confidence for the ruling party and Erdogan.
That was why it was so important for the President of Turkey to suddenly remember about the fate of Muslims all over the world and to show what a strong and determined leader he is, who is not afraid to reproach even such an authoritative and respected partner as China. And another wave of anti-Chinese protests across the country showed that Erdogan’s maneuver was a success.
In addition, a new wave of arrests began in Turkey. The country’s prosecutor’s office ordered to detain 1,112 people. They are suspected of affiliation to Fethullah Gulen movement, who is accused of attempting a coup in Turkey. With maniacal persistence for the last three years, the Turkish authorities are trying to remove his supporters from the Turkish state system.
After the failed coup in 2016, more than 77,000 people were arrested in Turkey. In most cases, without evidence of guilt. In addition, 150,000 civil and military servants groundlessly lost their jobs.
Naturally, such a punitive campaign caused criticism in the society. A new wave of arrests could generate mass demonstrations. And the conflict with China occurred just at the right time. Like a magician, Recep Tayyip Erdogan skillfully once again diverted the public attention from truly significant issues. But the question is for how long?