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Chinese 'Reeducation Camps' Whistle-Blower Leaves Kazakhstan For Unnamed Country


Sairagul Sauytbay in an Almaty courtroom in July 2018
Sairagul Sauytbay in an Almaty courtroom in July 2018

An ethnic Kazakh Chinese national whose court testimony helped expose so-called "reeducation camps" in northwestern China has left Kazakhstan after Kazakh officials denied her asylum.

A lawyer for Sairagul Sauytbay told RFE/RL that her client and her family members left Kazakhstan on June 3 for Sweden.

The lawyer, Aiman Omarova, wrote earlier on Facebook that Sauytbay had left for an unnamed country, which she referred to as "one of the most developed countries of the world."

Sauytbay, an ethnic Kazakh Chinese national, has been trying to get political asylum in Kazakhstan after an Almaty court in August found her guilty of illegal border crossing but ordered her release and said she will not be deported to China.

Sauytbay fled China in April last year and testified at her trial that thousands of ethnic Kazakhs, Uyghurs, and other Muslims in the northwestern province of Xinjiang were undergoing "political indoctrination" in a network of "reeducation camps."

WATCH: Kazakhs Say Relatives Being Held In China At 'Reeducation Camps' (from September 2018)

Kazakhs Say Relatives Being Held In China At 'Reeducation Camps'
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UN human rights officials said in August that an estimated 1 million ethnic Uyghurs were being held in "counterextremism centers" in China and millions more have been forced into reeducation camps.

The UN said the northwestern Xinjiang Province had been turned into "something that resembles a massive internment camp."

Sauytbay testified that Chinese authorities had forced her to train "political ideology" instructors for reeducation camps.

That, she said, gave her access to secret documents about what she called a Chinese state program to "reeducate" Muslims from Xinjiang's indigenous ethnic communities -- mainly Uyghurs, Kazakhs, Kyrgyz, Tajiks, and Hui, also known as Dungans.

Uyghurs are the largest indigenous community in Xinjiang, followed by Kazakhs. The Han, China's largest ethnicity, are the second-largest community in Xinjiang.

China has denied the allegations.

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