Twitter contest celebrating China-Turkey ties used to highlight plight of Uyghurs

2021.05.08

Twitter users have taken advantage of a drawing contest marking 50 years of Chinese-Turkish relations to highlight persecution of Uyghurs in the Xinjiang region.

The Turkish Ministry of National Education and the Chinese embassy in Ankara launched a contest that asked participants to draw “China in my dreams.”

Twitter users adopted the hashtag #hayalimdekicin — the name of the contest in Turkish — to upload information about the plight of Uyghurs in Xinjiang. The Turkish people have close historical connections with the Uyghurs — seen by many as part of a pan-Turkic people spanning from the Bosphorus to South Korea. A sizable Uyghur community has in recent years taken refuge in Turkey, complicating relations between Beijing and Ankara.

Some Western countries have accused China of “genocide” as millions were put into reeducation camps, among other issues. China rejects the claims.

Ahmet Davutoglu, a former Turkish prime minister and foreign minister, also tweeted with the hashtag, alongside a painting with a girl with her right arm held up, facing a flag of East Turkestan, the proposed name of Xinjiang for some independence activists. The picture was drawn by another person dated Thursday.

“Our dream is East Turkestan. Dear children, picture the dream of saving your brothers and sisters in our ancestral homeland from persecution and send them to this contest. Speak to those who do not want to see!” tweeted Davutoglu.

Other works under the hashtag included a photo of Uyghur men in blue jumpsuits who were inside a reeducation camp, a flag of East Turkestan stained blood in the image of the Chinese flag, and a cartoon condemning forced television confessions of Uyghurs, among others.

In an online exchange session about Xinjiang, China’s ambassador to Washington, Cui Tiankai, accused Western countries of telling lies about the region and launching smear campaigns and unilateral sanctions. He urged participants to “get to know a real and beautiful Xinjiang.”

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