Kyrgyzstan Charges Anti-China Protester With Inciting Ethnic Hatred

BISHKEK -- A woman in Kyrgyzstan has been arrested and charged with inciting ethnic hatred during a protest against Beijing's policies in the northwestern Chinese region of Xinjiang.

A court in Kyrgyzstan’s capital ordered Guljamila Saparalieva to be held in pretrial detention for two months, activist Amanbol Babakulov told RFE/RL on January 29.

The Interfax news agency quoted the Bishkek police as saying that the Birinchi Mai district court ordered that Saparalieva be remanded in custody due to the "gravity" of the accusation and the "social danger" that the accused represents.

The investigation into the case was continuing, they also said.

Babakulov said the 56-year-old Saparalieva was detained on January 23.

She was among some 500 demonstrators who gathered on Bishkek’s Ala-Too Square on January 17 to protest against what they called the persecution of Muslims in Xinjiang.

The protesters also urged authorities to deport what they said were hundreds of thousands of Chinese migrants living illegally in Kyrgyzstan.

The Interior Ministry later said that 21 of the protesters were found guilty of disrupting public order next day and fined 3,000 soms ($45) each.

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

The United Nations said in August that an estimated 1 million Muslims from indigenous ethnic communities in 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. The region is home as well to ethnic Kyrgyz, Tajiks, and Hui, also known as Dungans.

Han, China's largest ethnicity, are the second-largest community in Xinjiang.

With reporting by Interfax