China has warned its citizens traveling in Turkey to steer clear of anti-Beijing protests after a number of Chinese tourists, and even Korean tourists, were reportedly attacked by demonstrators.
The Ministry of Foreign affairs published a notice yesterday alerting citizens about “multiple” protests being held by Turkish nationalists against China’s treatment of Uyghur Muslims in its far-western Xinjiang region.
“Absolutely do not get close to or film the protests, and minimize to the greatest extent outside activities on one’s own,” the notice said.
A popular Chinese restaurant in the tourist-heavy Tophane district of Istanbul was attacked last Wednesday by protestors who smashed windows, Reuters reports, citing the Turkish daily Hurriyet.
On Sunday in Istanbul, several hundred protesters marched towards the Chinese consulate carrying flags and chanting anti-China slogans outside the building, located towards the end of a leafy uphill road from the coast of the Bosphorus strait.
Earlier in the day, some of the protesters had burned a Chinese flag.
In another instance, demonstrators targeted a group of Korean tourists, seemingly mistaking them for Chinese travelers, according to The National.
Some of the protesters attacked a group of Koreans outside the Topkapi Palace, which is visited by thousands of tourists every day.
The Korean tourists were rescued by riot police, who fired tear gas to disperse the attackers.
Video footage published by the Dogan news agency showed a distraught Korean tourist saying: “I’m not Chinese, I’m Korean.”
Turkey, which has cultural and religious links with the Uyghur community in Xinjiang, said on Friday that it would keep its doors open for ethnic Uyghurs fleeing persecution.
— The Express Tribune (@etribune) July 5, 2015
The protests follow reports that Beijing had banned Muslim Uyghurs in the restive region from fasting during the holy month of Ramadan. Chinese officials have emphasized that these reports were merely fabricated by Western media.
— People's Daily,China (@PDChina) July 6, 2015
Not long before Ramadan, it was reported that the Chinese government issued a notice demanding shops and restaurants in Xinjiang to sell cigarettes and alcohol, a move that was also seen as an attempt to undermine the Muslim religion in the region.
In its sweeping “anti-terrorist” campaign, the CCP has targeted Uyghurs who wear headscarves and grow long beards, as it associates the practices with “extremist thinking”. A man in Kashgar in March was sentenced to six months in prison for “provoking trouble” after refusing to trim his facial hair, while his wife was given a two-year sentence in jail for wearing a veil.