7 Jan 2019 22:33

Protesters hold rally in Bishkek demanding that illegal Chinese migrants be deported from Kyrgyzstan

BISHKEK. Jan 7 (Interfax) - Hundreds participating in a rally in central Bishkek on Monday demanded that the authorities remove illegal Chinese migrants from Kyrgyzstan, an Interfax correspondent reported.

"It's no secret that we have several hundred or even more Chinese nationals illegally staying in the republic. They work in bazaars, in the mining sector and in other spheres. We demand that they be deported," rally participant Nurlan Alymkulov said. The rally was held on central Ala-Too Square.

"We are against Chinese expansion," he said.

The authorities should not offer Kyrgyz nationality to Chinese natives who get married in Kyrgyzstan in order to stay permanently in the country, he said.

Protesters also expressed support for those ethnic Kyrgyz people held in "political re-education camps" in China. Attendees promised to hold another rally with similar demands on January 17 if the Kyrgyz authorities do not listen to their appeals.

After that, people headed to the offices of the Public Broadcasting Corporation (OTRK) to ask for airtime. OTRK general director Ilim Karypbekov came outside to meet rally participants and said that he could not accommodate their demands during the public holidays but promised to give them airtime on Tuesday, January 8.

The rally ended at 6 p.m. (3 p.m. Moscow time), the Kyrgyz Interior Ministry's press service told Interfax. "Rally participants did not violate public order. There were some police officers at the scene to keep order," an Interior Ministry spokesperson said.

Kyrgyz relatives of ethnic Kyrgyz people living in China said in November 2018 that the Chinese authorities had unlawfully arrested and sent about 50,000 people to "political re-education camps" in China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region (XUAR).

The incarceration of ethnic Kyrgyz people in such camps has nothing to do with their religious views, Almanbet Osmon uulu, member of the committee campaigning for the rights of Kyrgyz detainees in China, said. "The Kyrgyz living in China are remote from religion, they are not religious. They call these camps education centers. [...] This is not the case. They actively impose communist ideas in those camps. People are forced to jog every morning and subjected to torture for disobedience," he said.

Of more than ten million Turkic-speaking people currently living in XUAR, 202,000 are ethnic Kyrgyz, according to the committee.

On November 26, ten ethnic Kyrgyz who had returned from China asked Kyrgyz President Sooronbai Jeenbekov to help determine their relatives' whereabouts.