Ankara [Turkey], November 26 (ANI): Chinese authorities have destroyed a dome in a park that an Uyghur living in Turkey had built in his former hometown in Xinjiang.
Mamattohti Imin said he paid the US $31,300 to construct the park in Lengger township, Toqquzaq county, in the troubled western region of China, where government authorities have pushed to wipe away Uyghur religious and cultural expression, Radio Free Asia reported.
He told RFA that he wanted to give locals, including his children and grandchildren, a place to pray and as an outlet for his own grief over his separation from his homeland.
The dome lay next to his burial plot in Buwihenim Cemetery in a park that he filled with flowers and fruit trees. He had also constructed several houses on the site.
"I heard that they tore it down," he told RFA. Mamattohti used GPS maps to confirm that the dome had been torn down.
The RFA said that the Chinese government has embarked on a campaign to wipe out the religious and cultural heritage of the 12 million mostly Muslim Uyghurs who live in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.
Mamattohti, who has lived in Turkey for half a century, said he was told that 10 of his children and grandchildren, offspring from his first wife, had been taken into "re-education" camps or sentenced to jail. A Lengger township official contacted by RFA said seven of Mamattohti's children and grandchildren remained in prison.
He has participated in demonstrations staged by Uyghurs in front of the Chinese Embassy in Istanbul, demanding news of missing family members in Xinjiang.
"Because I'm here [in Turkey], they said I'm a terrorist, a separatist," he said. "They said I tried to split up the homeland, that I'd gone on radio and television, that I'd shared the news with the radio. They said a lot of nonsensical things."China has been rebuked globally for the crackdown on Uyghur Muslims by sending them to mass detention camps, interfering in their religious activities and sending members of the community to undergo some form of forcible re-education or indoctrination.
Early this year, the United States became the first country in the world to declare the Chinese actions in Xinjiang as "genocide". In February, both the Canadian and Dutch parliaments adopted motions recognising the Uyghur crisis as genocide.
The latter became the first parliament in Europe to do so.
In April, the United Kingdom also declared China's ongoing crackdown in Xinjiang a "genocide". (ANI)