ALMATY -- A Uyghur man from China's northwestern Xinjiang Province who has been jailed for entering Kazakhstan illegally is worried he will be deported to China, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reports.
A former inmate in the East Kazakhstan Oblast labor camp OV-156/17, who identified himself only as Khamza, told RFE/RL today he wants to publicize the plight of a camp prisoner named Nurmukhammed Abil, a 21-year-old Uyghur from Xinjiang.
Khamza said Abil was detained by Kazakh border guards about nine months ago after crossing the Chinese-Kazakh border illegally, for which he was subsequently sentenced to one year in jail. His term ends in November.
"Abil is very scared that he may be extradited to China after completing his jail term," Khazma told RFE/RL. "He told me he chose to serve a prison term in Kazakhstan rather than be executed in China. He also said he is wanted in China for participation in terrorist activities, which he says is not true. Abil said he merely sympathizes with Uyghurs who protest Chinese dominance in the region."
Kazakh rights activist Denis Dzhivaga from the Almaty-based Kazakhstan Bureau for Human Rights told RFE/RL he is aware of Abil's case. He said Abil has the right to apply for political asylum with Kazakh migration police.
"The application should be sent via the administration of the labor camp where Abil is serving his jail term," Dzhivaga said. "The branches of the Kazakh penitentiary system know about the procedure, as we have held many seminars to familiarize their staff with it."
The warden of OV-156/17, Qayrat Ghaliev, refused to confirm if Abil is a prisoner at the labor camp. Ghaliev said such questions should be referred to the East Kazakhstan Oblast Department for Monitoring the Penitentiary System (KUIS).
KUIS officer Colonel Ibraimov (no first name given) told RFE/RL the question should be addressed to the labor camp warden. When told that the labor camp warden advised RFE/RL to raise the issue with KUIS, Ibraimov asked RFE/RL to send a written query to KUIS, which has been done.
Kazakhstan has extradited several Uyghur asylum seekers to China in recent years, incurring criticism from domestic and international human rights organizations.
Uyghurs sent back to China from Central Asian countries routinely receive lengthy sentences or are executed.
Read more in Russian here