ALMATY -- A group of children of ethnic Kazakhs from China have urged Kazakh authorities to help release their parents from so-called "reeducation camps" in China's northwestern region of Xinjiang.
Some 50 schoolchildren attended a meeting at the Almaty office of Atazhurt Young Volunteers, an NGO that organized the gathering on November 2.
They asked Kazakh authorities and international human rights groups to press for the release of their parents and their resettlement to Kazakhstan.
Some of the children were accompanied by adult relatives, in some cases a parent whose spouse is in China.
A number of the children said one or both of their parents had been detained and sent to reeducation camps while traveling back and forth to their native Xinjiang, which borders Kazakhstan.
Others said their parents had been allowed to relocate to Kazakhstan but were not given the documents needed to apply for resident status in the Central Asian country.
After Kazakhstan gained independence following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, many ethnic Kazakhs from Xinjiang and elsewhere benefited from Kazakhstan's state program on resettlement of ethnic Kazakhs into the country.
Many of them obtained permanent residence in Kazakhstan or Kazakh citizenship, but continue to visit their relatives in Xinjiang on a regular basis.
Last month, Kazakh repatriates from China held two separate public protests in Almaty, asking German and French officials to help their relatives get released from the camps in Xinjiang.
UN human rights officials said in August that an estimated 1 million Muslims from Xinjiang were being held in "counterextremism centers" in China and millions more have been forced into reeducation camps.
In August, a court in Almaty refused to extradite Sairagul Sauytbay, an ethnic Kazakh Chinese citizen who was wanted in China for illegal border crossing.
Sauytbay fled China in April and testified in the Almaty court that thousands of ethnic Kazakhs, Uyghurs, and other Muslims in Xinjiang are undergoing "political indoctrination" at a network of "reeducation camps."
She testified that Chinese authorities had forced her to train "political ideology" instructors for reeducation camps, giving her access to secret documents about what she called a state program to "reeducate" Muslims from indigenous ethnic communities.
Uyghurs are the largest indigenous community in Xinjiang, followed by Kazakhs, and the region is also home to ethnic Kyrgyz and Hui, also known as Dungans.
Han, China's largest ethnicity, are the second largest community in Xinjiang.
On October 19, the state-run China Daily newspaper said in an editorial that Muslims in Xinjiang were vulnerable to foreign extremist propaganda and needed education and vocational skills.
The editorial accused the Western media of "double standards" when it comes to reporting on Xinjiang, adding that the "false picture" of Xinjiang in the foreign media was "aimed at smearing the Chinese government."