29 Nov 2018 16:59

Around 50,000 Kyrgyz people in Chinese 're-education camps' - relatives

BISHKEK. Nov 29 (Interfax) - The relatives of ethnic Kyrgyz living in China have reported the illegal arrest and detention of around 50,000 people in "political re-education camps" in China.

"At the moment, there are about 50,000 Kyrgyz in re-education camps in China. The unjustified arrest of our compatriots and relatives and their detention in political re-education camps in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region are not related to their religious views," Almanbet Osmon uulu, a member of a committee campaigning for the rights of Kyrgyz detainees in China, said at a press conference in Bishkek on Thursday.

"The Kyrgyz living in China are remote from religion, they are not religious," he said.

Some of them are members of the Kyrgyz intelligentsia, he said. "For instance, Professor Mambettursun Mambetakun and journalists, including my brother, who has been accused of extremism," Osmon uulu said.

His fellow committee member, Maksatbek Asanbekov, said that the aim of such camps is to assimilate the Turkic-speaking population under the guise of fighting extremism.

"These camps are called learning centers. [...] In reality they are not, these camps are actively imposing Communist ideas. They force [inmates] to run in the morning and punish disobedience with torture," Asanbekov said.

Of the over 10 million Turkic-speaking citizens living in the province, 202,000 are ethnic Kyrgyz, according to the committee.

On November 26, 10 ethnic Kyrgyz who had returned from China asked Kyrgyz President Sooronbai Jeenbekov to help establish their relatives' whereabouts.