BISHKEK — Some 300 activists have gathered in the center of the Kyrgyz capital to protest against what they called the increasing number of Chinese migrants in Kyrgyzstan.
During the January 7 demonstration at Bishkek’s Central Square, the participants urged the authorities to deport illegal Chinese migrants back to their country and stop granting citizenship to those who marry Kyrgyz nationals.
“Kyrgyzstan’s leadership, without any consultation with the people, has taken loans from China, putting all of us in financial dependence. That is what we are challenging here, among other things,” one of the protesters, Zholdoshbek Orozov, told RFE/RL.
The demonstrators also expressed support for ethnic Kyrgyz who they said were being persecuted in reeducation camps in China’s northwestern province of Xinjiang.
The United Nations said in August that an estimated 1 million Muslims from Xinjiang, including ethnic Kyrgyz, Kazakhs, and Uyghurs, 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, and the region is also home to ethnic Kyrgyz, Tajiks, and Hui, also known as Dungans.
Han, China’s largest ethnicity, are the second-largest community in Xinjiang.