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China Targets Kazakh Ethnic Group

September 11, 2017 by admin

A number of reports this month further indicate that Chinese authorities in are increasingly targeting the Kazakh minority in East Turkestan. The Kazakhs are Turkic people and predominately Muslim, like the Uyghurs, who also constitute a sizable ethnic group in China, with between 1.25-1.5 million reportedly living in East Turkestan.

Throughout 2017, the Chinese government has stepped up its campaign targeting members of the Kazakh minority in East Turkestan. Heavy restrictions on freedom of movement, expression, privacy and religion have all been felt as authorities have focused their attention on individuals with contacts outside the country. In recent months, they have been particularly singled out for repressive policies targeting the peaceful practice of Islam and any individuals with overseas ties, much like the Uyghurs.
This month, it was reported that Nurjan Memet, a Kazakh imam from East Turkestan’s Ili Kazakh Autonomous Prefecture, failed to reappear after his jail sentence ended. He was arrested for “engaging in illegal religious activities”, which reportedly was for performing a traditional Muslim “nikah” wedding ceremony. It was also reported that ‘more than 20’ ethnic Kazak students were being held in detention by Chinese authorities for wearing ‘Islamic’ clothing and praying.
Radio Free Asia also reported this month on the situation of 7 ethnic minority Kazakhs with Chinese passports who were hiding in Turkey after their political asylum applications were rejected by Kazakhstan. They stated that 2-4 ethnic Kazakhs were forcibly repatriated to China from Egypt and have not been heard from since. Chinese authorities in East Turkestan also reportedly sentenced an ethnic Kazakh man to a 12 year jail term for allegedly ‘helping others emigrate to Kazakhstan’.
Dozens of ethnic Kazakhs were detained in early August in East Turkestan for maintaining ties to friends and relatives beyond the border. More than thirty others were detained since the start of 2017 for conversations on their smartphones with friends and relatives about how best to emigrate to Kazakhstan. Official sources also confirmed that Chinese authorities in East Turkestan are forcing Uyghur and Kazak individuals wishing to register a vehicle to undergo a stringent background test.
In response, the World Uyghur Congress has issued a press release expressing solidarity with all other ethnic minorities that make up East Turkestan and calling on the Chinese government to halt its increasing restrictions on ethnic Kazakhs and other ethnic minorities native to the region and to uphold international standards in terms of fair treatment and protection for vulnerable groups.

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