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Hundreds Protest In Bishkek Against Chinese Migrants

The participants urged the authorities to deport illegal Chinese migrants and stop granting citizenship to them.

BISHKEK -- Hundreds of activists have gathered in the center of the Kyrgyz capital to protest against what they called the increasing number of Chinese migrants in Kyrgyzstan.

During the January 17 demonstration at Bishkek’s Ala-Too Square, the participants urged the authorities to deport illegal Chinese migrants back to their country and stop granting citizenship to them.

The demonstrators also expressed support for ethnic Kyrgyz who they said were being persecuted in reeducation camps in China's northwestern province of Xinjiang.

Foreign Ministry official Almaz Imangaziev met with the demonstrators and told them that all migrants from China were residing and working in Kyrgyzstan legally.

However, the demonstrators disagreed and said that all Chinese businesses in the Central Asian country should be checked in an effort to locate illegal immigrants.

Following similar protests in Bishkek in recent months, President Sooronbai Jeenbekov on January 11 warned that "those trying to disrupt Kyrgyz-Chinese partnership" will face legal prosecution.

The United Nations said in August that an estimated 1 million Muslims from Xinjiang were being held in "counterextremism centers."

The UN also said millions more had 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.