Uyghur women march to Ankara to seek help in locating missing kids

Uyghur women have started marching from Istanbul to Ankara in an attempt to get the Turkish government to help them locate their missing kids whom they had to leave behind in their home countries.

Salih Gergerlioğlu / DUVAR

A group of Uyghur women from China's Xinjiang region has started marching from Istanbul to Ankara to ask the Turkish government for help locating their missing children whom they had to leave behind in their hometowns because of population regulation policies.

Amine Muhammed Emin hasn't heard from her three kids since 2016, when she had to move to Turkey to avoid the repercussions of population policies after having five kids. 

Three of Emin's kids were unable to obtain passports at first, which is why her husband needed to return to Xinjiang after the family moved to Turkey, she said. 

"They arrested him for going to Turkey. China considers Uyghurs who travel to other countries 'terrorists,'" Emin said, noting this is why she's been unable to go back for her kids. 

The women need the government to help them navigate the bureaucracy, they said, but the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has been silent on China's persecution of Uyghurs due to economic concerns. 

Foreign ministers of China and Turkey are expected to discuss the treatment of Uyghurs by the former in a March 25 meeting in Ankara, although Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu did not list the item as part of the official agenda. 

There is an ongoing protest in front of the Chinese consulate in Istanbul which started in early November by family members of those jailed and put in camps, followed by demonstrations in Ankara and Kayseri.

Although the protests in Istanbul were quite peaceful, security forces in Ankara and Kayseri have been intimidating, detaining, physically and verbally attacking protestors including children; even injuring one female demonstrator.