Families plead for help on behalf of imprisoned loved ones

Friday, April 27, 2018

Gulsanat with her three children.
(Photo: ChinaAid)

(Almaty, Kazakhstan—April 27, 2018) Several Kazakh Chinese people living in Kazakhstan spoke to ChinaAid on April 21 about family members detained in a crackdown in China’s northwestern Xinjiang.

Recently, an uptick in race-based incarceration has taken place across Xinjiang, where officials are routinely detaining Kazakhs and Uyghurs in “political detention centers,” ostensibly to eradicate extremism among the largely Muslim population. However, the people they arrest have no terrorist connections and are usually peaceful citizens.

Tusunhan Abdurahman, one of the people interviewed by ChinaAid, said that her husband, Dosembek, was arrested last year. “Our family immigrated to Kazakhstan in September 2009. In April 2017, my husband, Dosembek, returned to China to handle the procedures for his [retirement] pension. He was going to be 60 in October 2017. He should have been able to receive the pension after his retirement, but he returned to Kazakhstan in August, failing to settle the paperwork.”

After his return, Dosembek raised funds to travel back to China. Abdurahman continued, “This time, the police confiscated his passport … We kept in touch for awhile, but no one has heard from him since Jan. 22. I don’t know if he’s dead or alive. My husband worked diligently in China for 40 years. He contributed a lot to the country. We never break any laws.”

Gulsanat, a Kazakh woman interviewed by the reporter, is the mother of three children, and her husband is a Chinese citizen. On March 20, 2016, Chinese police confiscated her husband’s passport after he returned to China from Kazakhstan, and he has not been able to leave China since. Gulsanat said that the family has not seen him in more than two years. “I have great difficulties supporting the family. We don’t have coal for winter. We don’t have money for living. The children often starve. I work outside, and there’s no one to take care of the children. Life has become harder and harder. I don’t know how to summarize what I’m going through. The children miss their father.”

She used to be able to contact her husband through the Chinese social media platform WeChat, but now, neither his phone nor his WeChat work.

“I don’t know where my husband is. I don’t know if he’s still alive. I beg the Kazakhstan government to help us. I hope the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Kazakhstan can help me reunite with my husband.”

Another Kazakh Chinese person who had obtained Kazakh citizenship, Tanghuray Bahetjan, reported that his wife, Halifat Nurmuhamet, had also attempted to return to China to visit her mother. While in the country, Chinese officials sent her to a “political training center,” which are detention centers infamous for their torture of Kazakh and Uyghur inmates.

“It’s been five months,” Bahetjan said. “No one can reach her. She brought our oldest son with her.”

Currently, the child is living with relatives in China, while the couple’s youngest son is with Bahetjan in Kazakhstan.

According to Abdurahman, placing people in “political training centers” for leaving the country began last year. “Those who leave the training centers either went insane or suffered from dementia. Some died, and the government claimed that they had committed suicide. Similar events are occurring more and more frequently.”

The families are calling on Kazakh officials to intervene.

Additionally, reports are surfacing that the Xinjiang government constantly monitors local phones, immediately arresting those who use WhatsApp or Facebook and looking for religious texts and images. Public security personnel also check the group chats of Uyghur and Kazakh people.

ChinaAid exposes abuses, such as those suffered by Kazakhs in Xinjiang, in order to stand in solidarity with the persecuted and promote religious freedom, human rights, and rule of law.

ChinaAid Media Team
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