Update: March 02, 2022 10:31 p.m. STI
Istanbul [Turkey]March 2 (ANI): Turkey closed a Uyghur elementary school in Istanbul after China complained about the anti-Beijing instruction at the school.
Jilil Kashgary, writing to Radio Free Asia (RFA), said that on February 21, officials from the Provincial Directorate of National Education in Istanbul locked the doors of Hira Uyghur Elementary School and did not allow its more than 300 students to enter.
China said the school violated Turkey’s own regulations, but some lawmakers want it reopened. School officials said they were told China had filed a lawsuit against the school.
Hira Uyghur School is located in an Istanbul neighborhood where many Uyghurs have settled, some fleeing widespread persecution in Xinjiang.
It taught students the Uyghur language and other subjects and offered tuition to Uyghur children who do not have Turkish residency and therefore cannot attend public schools, Kashgary said.
He also taught English and Turkish as well as vocational skills like sewing and driving to adults.
In the complaint filed with Turkish government authorities, China also said the school violated Turkish rules by requiring students to wear military uniforms for a school ceremony in 2019, RFA reported.
Levent Yazici, who heads the Istanbul Provincial Directorate of Education, told RFA that the school has not been closed, although MPs have publicly criticized its closure.
“Why would we shut it down? We didn’t shut it down,” he said. “I’m not aware of this case. I have no connection with it. We’ll have to look into it and see.”
The dispute over the school comes as Turkey and China have grown closer in recent years, including through a bilateral agreement to exchange information on money laundering and terrorist financing.
As the two countries have grown closer, Uyghur migrants working in Turkey have sometimes been detained and placed in migrant detention centers.
Opposition party lawmakers in Turkey’s parliament who support the Uyghurs have criticized the school’s closure, Kashgary said. (ANI)