Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Another Shoe Drops in the Turkish “Passports for Uyghurs” Case

CHINA MATTERS - Monday, July 20, 2015

 Evidence keeps accummulating that a clandestine Turkish government program to enable Uyghur emigration from the PRC--for motives either noble, sinister, or both--has turned into a major security cock-up, embarrassment for Turkey, and a serious issue in PRC-Turkish relations.  I wrote this on July 11 on the occasion of the forcible repatriation of over one hundred Uyghur men from Thailand to the PRC amid PRC allegations that the Turkish government, in addition to providing diplomatic and consular support to the Uyghurs, had crossed a line by providing fake travel documents:  Please note that the PRC Foreign Ministry, as well as Global Times, were already raising the passport issue at the beginning of 2015.  First the PRC employed the polite fiction that some profit-minded freelancers were selling Turkish passports to Uyghurs; then it was “consulates and embassies of unnamed countries” were dishing out documents; now, unambiguously, the PRC is pointed the finger at the Turkish government. … The only remaining grey area is whether all the Uyghur men who end up in Syria are simply hapless “cannon fodder” recruited by jihadis, or whether the Turkish security services identify some particularly capable Uyghur militants, provide documents, and enable travel, training, and battlefield experience in Syria in order to cultivate Turkey-friendly assets in Syria or potentially in AfPak/Central Asia.  Might never get to the bottom of that one, unless the PRC decides to crank up the evidentiary apparatus another notch in order to make sure Western journos finally get the point.  The PRC is busy fleshing out this story, and added the new wrinkle that the Turkish scheme had facilitated terrorist activities within the PRC.  The PRC has embarked on a major push to justify its insistence on what the West has condemned as the refoulement of Uyghur refugees, to allege that the Uyghurs who left the country were not political refugees protected by the principle of non-refoulement; instead, they were illegal emigrants, candidate militants seeking participation in jihad.