Erdogan tones down reference to Kashmir in UN speech; brings up Uighur Muslim rights in China

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has again raised the Kashmir issue at the United Nations but his statement was much milder compared to those he made the previous two years

Arul Louis Sep 22, 2021
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Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has again raised the Kashmir issue at the United Nations but his statement was much milder compared to those he made the previous two years. 

“We maintain stand in favour of solving the ongoing problem in Kashmir for 74 years through dialogue between the parties and within the framework of relevant United Nations resolutions,” he said on Tuesday in his speech at the General Assembly's summit.

But last year he had described the Kashmir situation as a “burning issue” and criticised the abolition of the special status for Kashmir. And in 2019, Erdogan had said that “despite the resolutions adopted, Kashmir is still besieged and eight million people are stuck in Kashmir,” he said referring to the Indian union territory.

That year Mahathir Mohamad, who was then the Prime Minister of Malaysia joined Erdogan in bringing up Kashmir. He said in a virulent statement that India “invaded and occupied” Kashmir.

But with the change in government, Malaysia did not bring up Kashmir last year.

Reacting to Erdogan's statement in 2019, Prime Minister Narendra Modi cancelled a scheduled visit to Turkey.

India maintains that under the Simla Agreement of 1972 between Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, who was at that time the president of Pakistan, Kashmir is a bilateral matter and should not be internationalised.

In his speech on Tuesday, Erdogan also made a mild reference to the systemic persecution faced by the Uighur Muslim minority in China.

“Within China's territorial integrity perspective, we do believe more effort need to be displayed regarding the basic rights of Muslim Uighur Turks,” he said.

Members of the Uighur minority are being placed in camps and face restrictions on practicing their religion and their culture and language overwhelmed by China's majority.

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