29 Jan 2019 11:23

Kyrgyz court arrests woman on ethnic hatred charges after anti-China rally

BISHKEK. Jan 29 (Interfax) - A Bishkek court has arrested Gulzhamila Saparaliyeva, 56, on suspicion of fomenting ethnic hatred following her detention at an anti-China rally in the Kyrgyz capital on January 17.

Saparaliyeva has been remanded in custody for two months, the Bishkek police press service told Interfax.

"A forensic linguistic examination concluded that remarks made by Saparaliyeva, born in 1963, who was one of the 30 speakers at the rally, contained calls for the incitement of ethnic hatred. She was detained and placed in a temporary detention facility," the press service said.

Bishkek's Pervomaisky District Court upheld Saparaliyeva's arrest and ordered that she be remanded in custody for two months, given the gravity of her offence and the degree of its social danger, the press service said.

A pre-trial investigation is continuing, it said.

Nearly 300 people took part in a rally on Bishkek's central square on January 17, demanding that the authorities deport Chinese illegal migrants from the country and stop issuing work quotas to Chinese citizens. Demonstrators also spoke out against corruption at the upper echelons of government and called for the transparency of the government's financial activities, primarily those related to the use of Chinese grants and loans.

As protesters moved toward the Kyrgyz parliament headquarters, police detained 21 people, including Amanbol Babakulov, a rally organizer and a member of the Zhany Muun (Next Generation) civic movement. Subsequently, 26 participants in the rally were fined 3,000 som, or $42.8, each for disorderly behavior.

Local activists voiced concerns about the presence and naturalization of Chinese citizens in late 2018, after families of ethnic Kyrgyz residents of China said that the Chinese authorities had sent thousands of people to re-education camps.

The activists held a rally near the Chinese embassy in late December. They demanded that the issuance of work visas and naturalization of Chinese citizens stop, fearing "quiet Chinese expansion." A similar demonstration was held in the center of Bishkek on January 7.

Kyrgyz First Deputy Prime Minister Kubatbek Boronov said on January 9 there had been attempts to destabilize relations with China.

Kyrgyz President Sooronbai Jeenbekov said later that day that attempts to destabilize Kyrgyz-Chinese relations would be stopped and that the culprits would be held accountable.