Uyghurs Say Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan Pressuring Them on China's Orders
Uyghur activists in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan have been forbidden from traveling to the U.S. for a conference, and they say it's as a result of pressure from China and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.
One of the activists in Kazakhstan, Kahriman Ghojamberdi, told Radio Free Asia's Uyghur service that customs officials at the airport in Almaty surreptitiously ripped out pages in his passport, and then told him that his passport was invalid for travel:
“Obviously, it is a slander to block me from the conference by orders from China. The Central Asian countries are acting as one of the provinces of China since the Shanghai Cooperation Organization was established,” Ghojamberdi said.
Four activists from Kyrgyzstan apparently had the same thing happen, and Ghojamberdi said several other Uyghurs in Kazakhstan were harassed by police and intimidated into not going to the conference:
“In the past 30 days most of my friends who received invitations from Washington to attend the congress were ‘investigated’ by Kazakh police and ‘persuaded’ not to attend the conference."
The SCO, recall, is the regional security organization consisting of China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Just a month ago, the U.S. mooted the idea of cooperating with the group, while a human rights group put out a report explaining the risks of these sorts of anti-Uyghur crackdowns in Central Asia under the auspices of the SCO.
The interior ministers of the SCO countries just met last week in Astana, and promised to cooperate more on law enforcement. From Xinhua:
Speaking highly the development of the Sino-Kazakhstan relationship, [Kazakhstan Prime Minister Karim] Massimov said that fruitful results have been achieved in the two countries' close contacts via pragmatic cooperation in various fields.
Pragmatic cooperation, indeed!
Joshua Kucera, a senior correspondent, is Eurasianet's former Turkey/Caucasus editor and has written for the site since 2007.