Kyrgyz and Kazakhs detained with Uyghurs in Xinjiang, activists say
According to Beijing, those drawn towards Islamist extremism and separatism have been sent “vocational education centres”. At least one million Uighurs and other minority Muslims are held at these sites, UN says.
Bishkek (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Kyrgyz and Kazakh Muslims have been detained along with Uyghurs in China’s “study camps" in the Xinjiang Autonomous Region, the Committee to Protect the Kyrgyz People in China (pictured) said in a statement.
The group has called on the Kyrgyz government, which relies heavily on Chinese economic aid, to condemn Beijing’s "scorched earth" policy and put pressure on Chinese authorities to let their countrymen go.
Asyla Alymkulova, the 33-year-old wife of Shairbek Doolotkhan, a Chinese-born Muslim, is one of the founders of the group. She has had no news about her husband since October when he went to Xinjiang on business.
Two weeks after his disappearance, a representative of Doolotkhan’s company told her that her husband had been "sent away to study" in a camp.
The “study camp” is believed to be one of the many extra-judicial detention centres set up in Xinjiang, holding as many as one million Uighurs and other Muslim minorities, according to estimates cited by a UN panel.
Chinese officials have described the camps as “vocational education centres” for people who appear to be drawn towards Islamist extremism and separatism.
But human rights activists say members of China’s Muslim minorities are being held involuntarily for transgressions such as wearing long beards and face veils.
The fate of 1.5 million Xinjiang-based Kazakhs has been a hot-button issue in Kazakhstan.
In Kyrgyzstan, the plight of members of the smaller Chinese Kyrgyz community only recently emerged after reports that a Kyrgyz lawmaker’s brother had been detained.
Kyrgyzstan’s foreign minister declined to comment when asked if Kyrgyz citizens had also been arrested. China’s Foreign Ministry said that it had no information.