«This tragedy has further reinforced the reaction of the Turkish public opinion toward serious human rights violations committed in the Xinjiang region,» Aksoy said.
«We expect this legitimate response to be taken into account by the Chinese authorities. We respectfully commemorate Abdurehim Heyit and all our kinsmen who lost their lives defending their Turkish and Muslim identity,» Aksoy said.
Heyit was a master of the dutar, a type of two-stringed instrument with a long neck that is found in Iran and throughout Central Asia. His detention was considered indicative of China’s determination to crack down on Uighur intellectuals and cultural figures in an effort some say to eradicate a separate Uighur language and identity.
Heyit’s death could not be independently confirmed. China had no immediate response to the minister’s remarks.
Beijing has intensified a security clampdown on Uighurs in the north-western region of Xinjiang that was put in place after a bloody 2009 riot. Droves of Uighurs have fled, many traveling to Turkey, where the language and culture are similar to that in Xinjiang.
After months of denying their existence, Chinese authorities under increasing outside pressure acknowledged the system of camps, terming them vocational training centres. They have provided little or no information on how many are interned within them and how long they are being held.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had once accused China of «genocide» but has since established closer diplomatic and economic relations with Beijing.