BISHKEK -- About two dozen Kyrgyz activists have demonstrated in front of the United Nations' office in Bishkek, demanding immediate action to help the multiethnic indigenous community in China’s northwestern region of Xinjiang.
The protesters on December 5 held placards saying "No to Chinese fascism!" as they called on UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to help stop the "persecution" of ethnic Kyrgyz, Kazakhs, and Uyghurs in the Chinese province.
The demonstrators also called on the UN Security Council to adopt a special resolution on the matter.
On November 29, a group called the Committee to Protect Kyrgyz People in China was created in Bishkek by activists and ethnic Kyrgyz from western China who have moved to Kyrgyzstan.
The group says there are many cases in which Chinese authorities have detained ethnic Kyrgyz who’ve remained in Xinjiang or visited the region after moving to Kyrgyzstan.
It says those people have been held incommunicado at so-called “reeducation camps” in western China for months or even years.
In neighboring Kazakhstan, there also have been protests in recent months about the situation in western China by ethnic Kazakhs who have left Xinjiang.
They have been urging Kazakh authorities and the international community to secure the release of relatives being held at the camps in China.
After Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan gained independence following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, many ethnic Kazakhs and Kyrgyz from Xinjiang resettled in the two Central Asian nations, taking advantage of state resettlement programs.
The UN said in August that an estimated 1 million Muslims from Xinjiang, mainly Uyghurs, were being held in "counterextremism centers" in China.
The UN also said millions more have been forced into reeducation camps.
China denies that the facilities are internment camps.
Uyghurs are the largest indigenous community in Xinjiang, followed by Kazakhs, and the region is also home to ethnic Kyrgyz, Tajiks, and Hui, also known as Dungans.
Han, China's largest ethnicity, are the second-largest community in Xinjiang.