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Kazakh Court Rejects China Deportation
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ZHARKENT, Kazakhstan -- A court in Kazakhstan has convicted ethnic Kazakh Chinese citizen Sairagul Sauytbay of illegal border crossing, but ordered her release and said she will not be deported to China, where she feared she would face "the most extreme" punishment.

Joyful relatives, friends, and rights activists in the courtroom greeted the August 1 ruling with a cheer and Sauytbay was reunited with her husband and two children when she walked out of the glass cage for defendants.

Sauytbauy fled China in April and has testified at her trial in Kazakhstan that thousands of ethnic Kazakhs and other Muslims are undergoing "political indoctrination" at a network of "reeducation camps" in western China.

At the trial in Zharkent, outside Almaty and close to the Chinese border, Judge Dinara Quiqabaeva sentenced Sauytbay to six months of parole, ruling that the sentence was suspended due to the "exceptional circumstances of the case."

WATCH: Ethnic Kazakh 'Grateful' Not To Be Deported To China

Ethnic Kazakh 'Grateful' Not To Be Deported To China
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"Taking into account the fact that the defendant had to commit the crime because it was the only way for her to reunite with her family, the crime cannot be considered serious," the judge said.

When a smiling Sauytbay left the courthouse with her family, surrounded by her supporters, dozens of people greeted her outside chanting, "Long live Kazakhstan!" and "Sairagul is our hero!"

Sauytbay thanked everyone who came to her trial and has been supporting her during her ordeal.

"When I came to Kazakhstan, I had a feeling that I am on my own. Now I am confident that it is not true," she said. "I have my people, my nation, my homeland that can stand for me! Thank you! Long live Kazakhstan!"

Sauytbay's husband and two children have been living in Kazakhstan for several years and obtained Kazakh citizenship last year.

Sauytbay, a 41-year-old native of the Ili-Kazakh Autonomous Prefecture in China's northwestern Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, was not allowed to leave China as she had the status of a state official there.

Before crossing into Kazakhstan on April 5, Sauytbay had been the head administrator of a kindergarten -- a position that, together with her membership in the Communist Party, technically made her a Chinese state official.

She was arrested in May at the request of the Chinese authorities, and Chinese diplomats have attended her trial.

In trial testimony, she said Chinese authorities had forced her to train "political ideology" instructors for reeducation camps in western China's Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.

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 minority communities -- mainly Uyghurs, ethnic Kazakhs, ethnic Kyrgyz, and Hui.

She says she also witnessed the inner workings of the program while employed at a camp for ethnic Kazakhs in the region's Mongol-Kuro district.

Hamza Tillozoda (left) has life-threatening Stage-3 testicular cancer that doctors in Tajikistan have not been able to treat.

The critically ill son of a Tajik opposition member and his mother have received travel documents enabling the 4-year-old boy to receive treatment abroad following an outcry from international rights groups.

Relatives of Ruhullo Tillozoda -- a leading member of the banned Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan (IRPT), who is in self-imposed exile abroad -- told RFE/RL on August 1 that his son, Hamza, and wife, Mizhgona Zainiddinova, received travel documents.

The news comes five days after Human Rights Watch (HRW) and the Norwegian Helsinki Committee (NHC) issued a joint statement urging Tajik authorities to lift "a politically motivated travel ban" and allow the boy to receive medical treatment abroad.

In a joint statement on July 27, the two rights groups said that the boy, who is also the grandson of IRPT leader Muhiddin Kabiri, has life-threatening Stage-3 testicular cancer that doctors in Tajikistan have not been able to treat.

Tillozoda and Kabiri left Tajikistan in 2015 to evade persecution by the state, which branded the IRPT a terrorist group and outlawed it that year.

On July 27, Tajik Deputy Health Minister Saida Umarzoda drew further criticism when she told reporters that Hamza Tillozoda's cancer cannot be treated and therefore "there is no need for him to travel abroad."

HRW and NHC said an oncology clinic in Turkey was ready to examine and treat the child.

Critics say Tajik President Emomali Rahmon, who has been in power for more than a quarter-century, and his government have intensified a crackdown on the opposition since 2015. Dozens of IRPT officials have been arrested and many of them jailed.

On July 31, the Interior Ministry blamed the IRPT for an attack that killed four foreign cyclists in southern Tajikistan the previous day. The IRPT denies involvement.

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"Watchdog" is a blog with a singular mission -- to monitor the latest developments concerning human rights, civil society, and press freedom. We'll pay particular attention to reports concerning countries in RFE/RL's broadcast region.

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