BISHKEK – Several dozen activists have demonstrated in front of the Chinese Embassy in Kyrgyzstan’s capital, Bishkek, to denounce the "persecution" of the indigenous communities in China’s northwestern region of Xinjiang, including ethnic Kyrgyz, Kazakhs, and Uyghurs.
Holding placards reading "No to Chinese fascism!" and "People of the world against evil!" the protesters on December 20 called on China’s authorities to provide information about each ethnic Kyrgyz who they say are incarcerated in reeducation camps in Xinjiang.
The demonstrators also urged Kyrgyzstan to deport within 30 days all foreign citizens, including Chinese nationals, illegally residing in Kyrgyzstan.
The rally was organized by Kyrgyz Choroloru (Kyrgyz Knights), a nongovernmental organization that promotes Kyrgyz language and culture.
In late November, a group called the Committee to Protect Kyrgyz People in China was created in Bishkek by ethnic Kyrgyz and other activists from western China.
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 several protests in recent months about the situation in western China by ethnic Kazakhs who have left Xinjiang.
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.