BISHKEK/DEC. 5 (The Conway Bulletin) — Pressure is growing on the governments of Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan to take a tougher line towards China over its alleged repression of Muslim ethnic minorities in its western Xinjiang province.
In Bishkek, around two dozen protesters demonstrated in front of the UN office demanding that it sanctions China for allegedly forced 1m people into “reeducation camps” in Xinjiang. A week earlier a group of ethnic Kyrgyz who had moved from western China to Kyrgyzstan set up the Committee to Protect Kyrgyz People in China.
Despite the widespread international coverage on China’s treatment of its ethnic minorities, the Kyrgyz government has been unwilling to openly criticise it, instead limiting itself to saying that it is monitoring the situation.
The Kazakh government has taken a similar line. Last month Kazakh diplomats, in a routine meeting, asked the Chinese ambassador to vouch for ethnic Kazakhs in China. Neither country wants to upset China, a key foreign investor.
Activists have described how Chinese security officials have forced people to move into secret camps. Testimonies from people who have visited the camps said conditions were tough and that the inmates were physically and psychologically abused.
The main target has been Uyghurs but also other ethnic groups. There are around 1.5m ethnic Kazakhs living in Xinjiang and 150,000 ethnic Kyrgyz.
>>This article was taken from issue 393 of the weekly Conway Bulletin newspaper