China, dozens of Kazakhs arrested: they were listening to the national anthem on social media

A 19-year-old who was watching videos of songs in his mother tongue was sentenced to 15 years in prison, in the absence of a lawyer. Beijing suspends retirement for workers returning home from China. Police extort money from families in exchange for the release of a detained relative.

Nur-Sultan (AsiaNews / Rfa) - Chinese authorities have arrested dozens of people of Kazakh nationality on charges of having spread their anthem via social media. The news of the arrests is spread by Kazakhs who have recently returned to their country. Among those arrested, 19-year-old Kastir Borat (photo 2), accused of "illegal broadcasting of foreign videos" and for this reason sentenced to 15 years in prison.

The relatives of the detainees say that the crackdown against the Kazakhs took place between July and August in the Xinjiang Autonomous Region and in particular in the Kazakh Autonomous Prefecture of Yili (Ili, in Chinese). In that area lives most of the citizens of Kazakh origin who reside in the People's Republic of China: in total about 1.5 million who profess the Islamic religion.

Dilnur, cousin of 19-year-old Kastir, reports that the young man was arrested last August 6 and sentenced in the absence of a lawyer two days later. The family was denied both permission to meet him and to follow the process. The cousin complains that Kastir had just finished high school and "was not doing anything wrong. He only listened to songs by Kazakh artists ".

Some inhabitants of Kazakhstan denounce the discriminatory policies implemented by China against the Kazakh Muslim minority, which is also implemented through strict control over private communications and through social media. Recently an activist bargained for probation in exchange for his silence on Beijing's repressive actions against the Uyghur Muslim minority of Xinjinag.

An Almaty resident reports that the families of those arrested are threatened by the police, who ask for money in exchange for the release of the relative. Once the money is handed over, the agents refuse to release the prisoner. In addition, pensioners returning from China to spend the last few years in their own country complain that Beijing is suspending their pension if they leave China.