Kazakh Police Detain Men Picketing Chinese Embassy Over Detained Relatives In Xinjiang

NUR-SULTAN -- Police have detained two men who staged separate pickets outside the Chinese Embassy in Kazakhstan's capital, Nur-Sultan, demanding the release of relatives being held in custody in China's northwestern Xinjiang region.

Aqiqat Qaliolla and Zhenis Zarqyn came to an area next to the embassy on June 26 with their hands and legs chained and posters on their bodies with portraits of family members. Zarqyn chained himself to a metal fence near the embassy.

Both said their relatives are being held in so-called "reeducation camps" in Xinjiang and demanded that Chinese authorities release them.

Special police forces came to the site and took the two men away shortly after they started their protest.

Many similar protests have taken place in Kazakhstan in recent months, with demonstrators demanding Kazakh authorities officially intervene in the situation faced by ethnic Kazakhs in Xinjiang.

'Reeducation Camps'

In August 2018, the United Nations said an estimated 1 million Uyghurs and members of other indigenous ethnic groups in the region were being held in "counterextremism centers."

The UN said millions more had been forced into so-called "reeducation camps." China denies that the facilities are internment camps.

People who have fled the province say that thousands of ethnic Kazakhs, Uyghurs, and other Muslims in Xinjiang are undergoing "political indoctrination" at a network of camps.

Kazakhs are the second-largest Turkic-speaking indigenous community in Xinjiang after Uyghurs. The region is also home to ethnic Kyrgyz, Tajiks, and Hui, also known as Dungans. Han, China's largest ethnicity, is the second-largest community in Xinjiang.