‘No to Olympics without human rights’

A protester tried to set himself alight outside the Chinese embassy in Ankara on Friday as Chinese Muslims denounced human rights violations in China ahead of the opening of the Olympic Games.

About 300 people, mostly Uighur refugees from China’s Muslim-majority region of Xinjiang, were seen gathered amid tight security outside the embassy to denounce the Olympic Games being held in Beijing.

While a spokesperson was reading a statement to the press, one of the demonstrators set himself alight, burning his face and hands before the police intervened and extinguished the flames.

The man, in his 30s, was sent to hospital.

“No to Olympics without human rights,” “Killer China” and “Save East Turkestan,” read some of the placards the demonstrators brandished.

The population in Xinjiang, in China’s far north-west, is made of predominantly Muslim Turkic-origin Uighurs, many of whom say they have been subjected to 60 years of communist repression.

Many Uighurs have sought refuge in Turkey, where some Islamist and nationalist groups lend support to demands for an independent Uighur homeland in the region, which they refer to as East Turkestan.

Uighur refugees staged demonstrations in Turkey in April when the Olympic torch passed through Istanbul.

Chinese authorities on Friday announced stepped-up controls on religious figures and potential “trouble-makers” in the Xinjiang city of Kashgar to guard against attacks on the Beijing Olympics.

The order followed an attack Monday that killed 16 police officers and a new threat by Xinjiang separatists to attack the Games.