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U.S. Embassy In Beijing Following Case Of Wanted Ethnic Kazakh

Kazakh Families Desperate For News About Detained Relatives In China
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WATCH: Kazakh Families Desperate For News About Detained Relatives In China (from October 2018)

The U.S. Embassy in Beijing says it is following the case of a Chinese citizen of Kazakh ethnicity who has asked the international community for help to prevent his forcible return to China from Uzbekistan.

A spokesman told the Associated Press news agency on February 11 that the embassy was in close contact with the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) and "relevant governments" about the case of Halemubieke Xiaheman (aka Ghalymbek Shaghyman).

"We urge third countries to allow UNHCR and other UN organizations and nongovernmental organizations access to these asylum seekers to assess their protection claims and provide assistance," the spokesman said in an e-mailed message to AP.

Xiaheman’s whereabouts are unknown.

The UNHCR office in Thailand declined to give any information regarding the case due to confidentiality rules, the AP report said.

In several video statements shot inside the transit zone at the Tashkent airport on February 7-8, he said the Chinese Embassy in Uzbekistan wanted him sent back to China.

In a statement, the Uzbek Foreign Ministry said Xiaheman flew to Bangkok on February 9.

That has not been independently confirmed.

The ministry said that Xiaheman had earlier flown from Thailand to the southeastern Kazakh city of Almaty after transiting in Tashkent, but gave no details.

Kazakhstan’s Serke online newspaper reported that the man was unable to enter Kazakhstan for unknown reasons and had to fly back to the Uzbek capital.

Beijing faces growing international pressure over its policies toward Uyghurs, Kazakhs, and members of other Turkic-speaking mostly Muslim indigenous communities in the northwestern region of Xinjiang.

A report by a UN panel of experts last year said that an estimated 1 million of them were being held in "counterextremism centers."

They said millions more had been forced into reeducation camps.

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

With reporting by AP, Reuters, Hurriyet, and Serke
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