Kazakhstan: 15-day jail to Uyghurs protesting missing relatives in China as Xi arrives ahead of SCO meet
Prior to Xi Jinping's official visit to Kazakhstan, pressure was being put by authorities on several Kazakhs who have been demanding the release of their relatives from camps in China's northwestern region of Xinjiang and even being warned of 15 days in jail
New Delhi: Chinese President Xi Jinping Wednesday began his three-day visit to Kazakhstan. The tour is being keenly watched as it is his first trip outside China in more than two and a half years. However, reports suggest that prior to his official visit, pressure was being put by authorities on several Kazakhs who have been demanding the release of their relatives from camps in China’s northwestern region of Xinjiang and even being warned of 15 days in jail.
According to a report in rferl.org, on 12 September, three women who have been demanding help from the Kazakh government for the release of their relatives were forced from a bus in Almaty. One of the women, Gulfia Qazybek said that officers did not explain why they were taking her and the other women to the police station.
In fact, people who had earlier demanded their relatives’ release from Chinese custody had been sentenced to 15 days in prison over unknown charges.
These charges against the Chinese government is not new. According to an earlier report in The Calvert Journal, Photographer Ofeliya Zhakayeva who has been interviewing families said that when the Kazakhstan started encouraging the country’s overseas diaspora to return after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, many decided to relocate, but not all. Some relocated to Kazakhstan, but returned to China to renew documents, where they were suddenly detained.
Now, Gauhar Qurmanalieva, one of the women who was forced off the bus with Qazybek said that she along with others who have staged rallies demanding their relatives’ release from Chinese penitentiaries were summoned to the Almaty city administration on 9 September and were told by a person identifying himself as a representative of the Foreign Ministry that they would face up to 15 days in jail if they appeared in Nur-Sultan, the capital, and staged rallies there on the eve of Xi’s visit.
This comes close at the heels of the United Nations, last month, issuing a report, citing appalling treatment of the region’s indigenous people in Xinjiang. China, which has tried to block the release of the report has countered that the camps are necessary to stop terrorism, separatism and religious radicalism.
According to a statement from Kasakhstan’s Akorda presidential palace, Xi and President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev are expected to sign bilateral agreements after discussing “prospects for strengthening the Kazakh-Chinese comprehensive strategic partnership”.
With inputs from agencies
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