By Agence France-Presse
Two ethnic Kazakhs from China’s Xinjiang region arrested for illegally entering Kazakhstan in an asylum bid will be handed back to China, the Central Asian country’s national security committee said Friday.
Kaster Musakhan and Murager Alimuly were detained by the national security committee (KNB) days after publishing video appeals in which they admitted crossing the border illegally and begged Kazakhstan to allow them to stay after alleging they were tortured in China.
Up to one million ethnic Uighurs and other mostly Muslim Turkic minorities are believed to be held in re-education camps in China, according to estimates cited by a United Nations panel in 2018.
But in an interview published on KNB’s official YouTube channel Friday, deputy chief Darkhan Dilmanov said the pair had “no chances of staying” after a Kazakh court case which he said was due to begin soon.
“In this situation, we will transfer them to the People’s Republic of China,” Dilmanov said.
Oil-rich Kazakhstan, with strong economic links to China, has become a hub for reporting on Xinjiang thanks to local activists who have encouraged former detainees and citizens with relatives in Xinjiang to speak.
There are at least 1.5 million Kazakhs living in Xinjiang, the region’s second-largest Turkic group after the Uighurs.
Landlocked Kazakhstan has described itself as the “buckle” in Beijing’s trillion-dollar Belt and Road trade and infrastructure project and prides itself on good relations with both Russia and China.