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Central Asia: Kazakh Activist Detained By Uzbek Police

Almaty, 3 January 2002 (RFE/RL) -- Uzbek police are holding Kazakh activist Oral Saulebay for organizing an unsanctioned mass gathering on 28 December. Hundreds of citizens of the Baghys village along the Kazakh-Uzbek border demonstrated, demanding that officials clarify the border demarcation.

Some 2,500 citizens of the villages of Baghys and Turkestanets do not know which country's citizenship they hold and have demanded a resolution to the problem.

Saulebay began a hunger strike on 1 January, demanding that representatives of the Kazakh Embassy be present during his interrogation.

Saulebay, who is one of the leaders of Azat movement and chairman of the Committee for the Protection of Kazakh Land, was detained by Uzbek police on 30 December in the village of Baghys in South Kazkahstan. Saulebay and several local citizens were detained two days after local activists announced their intention of proclaiming the so-called "Independent Baghys Kazakh Republic."

All those detained were later released, though Saulebay's whereabouts remained a question until confirmation of his arrest.