Hakan Kaya - Ozan Ural / Istanbul, July 9 () - A pro-Uighur group attacked the Thai Consulate in Istanbul late July 8 over allegations that 200 Uighurs who had fled to the Southeast Asian country from China would be repatriated.
About 200 people gathered in front of the consulate building at around 11 p.m. upon learning that some 200 Uighurs who fled alleged repression in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region would be repatriated to China.
After the public statement, the group began to attack the building with stones while chanting “Allah-u Akbar.” The assailants later broke into the building and scattered files and documents outside the street. One assailant also cut the rope of the Thai flag after climbing the flagstaff.
Riot police later arrived at the scene and detained nine people from the group. After a while, the group preformed prayer outside the street.
Meanwhile, a Thai government official said 90 Uighurs who had fled from China were repatriated in accordance with regulations.
A total of 173 people from the minority Muslim community had arrived in Turkey from Thailand, where they were being held after fleeing China on July 2.
Turkey has ethnic and linguistic ties to the Uighurs. Under pressure from Turkish nationalist groups who advocate closer links between the Turkic groups, Ankara has been trying for months to convince Thailand and China to allow the group to resettle in Turkey. The refugees have faced repatriation to China, where they fear mistreatment.
The attack on the Thai consulate is the latest in a string of ultranationalist attacks on Asians over China’s alleged mistreatment of Uighurs. Nationalists have so far attacked two Chinese restaurants in Istanbul, one of which was run by a Turk and employed a Uighur cook, while also roughing up Korean tourists on the supposition that they were Chinese.
Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli later downplayed the latter attack, saying it was difficult to differentiate between Koreans and Chinese since they “both have slanted eyes.”