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Hundreds Call On Kazakh President To Scrap China Visit

Protesters started gathering in Zhanaozen on September 2.

ZHANAOZEN, Kazakhstan -- Hundreds of protesters rallied in Kazakhstan’s volatile southwestern town of Zhanaozen for the second day on September 3 demanding President Qasym-Zhomart Toqaev cancel his upcoming trip to China.

The protesters gathered on the town's central square and challenged Kazakhstan’s proposal to build 55 industrial facilities in the country with China's financial assistance and called on citizens from other cities in the country to launch similar protests on September 4.

Some of the protesters demanded what they described as a "complete cleansing of Kazakhstan's power structures of corruption."

A day earlier, about 100 protesters demonstrated in Zhanaozen.

Toqaev is scheduled to pay an official two-day visit to Beijing starting on September 11. The demonstrators called on Toqaev to stop accepting loans from China.

The governor of the Manghystau region, Serikbai Turymov, met with the protesters and promised them that no Chinese plants will be built in the country.

Zhanaozen is a restive oil-industry town where police in December 2011 fatally shot at least 16 people while dispersing protests by local oil workers.

Anti-Chinese sentiment in Kazakhstan has been rising in recent months amid reports about the plight of indigenous ethnic groups, including Kazakhs, in China's northwestern region of Xinjiang.

The United Nations said last year that an estimated 1 million ethnic Uyghurs and other mostly Muslim Turkic-speaking indigenous people of Xinjiang were being held in what it described as "counterextremism centers" in the province.

The UN also said millions more had been forced into internment camps.

China says that the facilities are "vocational education centers" aimed at helping people steer clear of terrorism and allowing them to be reintegrated into society.

In recent months, several demonstrations protesting against reeducation camps for indigenous ethnic groups in Xinjiang were held in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Russia's Republic of Tatarstan.

With reporting by
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    RFE/RL's Kazakh Service

    RFE/RL's Kazakh Service offers informed and accurate reporting in the Kazakh and Russian languages about issues that matter in Kazakhstan, while providing a dynamic platform for audience engagement and the free exchange of news and ideas.