ALMATY, Kazakhstan – Police in Almaty in Kazakhstan have detained six protesters outside the Chinese Consulate. The protestors had demanded the release of their relatives whom China had arbitrarily detained, Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty reports.
Throughout the autumn, the parents of the disappeared Kazakhs and Uyghurs have been protesting outside the Consulate. The action likely prompted its staff to call the police on the protestors.
One of the detainees, Gulfia Qazybek, said that the police took her to a police station along with three other women: Khalida Aqytkhan, Zhamila Maken, Gauhar Qurmanghalieva, and two men, Babolat Kunbolatuly and Nurzat Ermekbai, according to RFE/EL.
“On 25 November 2021, relatives of prisoners of concentration camps in ‘Xinjiang’ were going to hold a peaceful rally outside the Chinese Consulate in Almaty demanding the release of their relatives from the concentration camps”, an observer in Almaty tweeted. “The Police officers arbitrarily detained several of them and took them to the Medeu District Police Department. There will likely be a political and an administrative trial under Article 488 (violation of the law on peaceful assembly)”, she continued.
President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev of Kazakhstan just visited Brussels on Thursday and Friday (25-26) November. His visit coincided with the arrests outside the Chinese Consulate and the death of the longest-serving Kazakh dissident-prisoner, Aron Atabek. Atabek died less than two months after being released from the prison where he had spent 15 years. There have been demands for the EU to use its leverage to confront the human rights abuses in Kazakhstan in Kazakhstan and demand freedom of protest.
After the fall of the former Soviet Union in 1991, many ethnic Kazakhs from ‘Xinjiang’ resettled in Kazakhstan. Many of them obtained permanent residence or citizenship but continue to cross the border to see relatives or do trade. Many have reportedly faced pressure from the Chinese authorities or even arrest and imprisonment, RFE/RL reports.
According to the U.S. State Department, China has extra-judicially detained as many as 2 million Uyghurs, Kazakhs, and members of other Turkic-speaking ethnic groups in detention centers in Northwestern China. Uyghurs prefer to call land Uyghurstan or East Turkistan.