Kazakhs allowed out of Xinjiang

China | ASSOCIATED PRESS 10 Jan 2019

China is allowing more than 2,000 ethnic Kazakhs to drop their citizenship and leave - a sign that Beijing may be starting to feel a mounting backlash against its crackdown on Muslims in the Xinjiang region.

The detention of Uygur, Kazakh and other ethnic minorities in camps has been a touchy issue in neighboring Kazakhstan, a Central Asian country of 18 million people. China is a major trading partner, and Kazakhstan's state-run media has generally avoided reporting on it.

Kazakhstan foreign ministry officials yesterday confirmed that Beijing has agreed to let 2,000-plus ethnic Kazakhs leave, though they did not say who could leave or why. But they will be allowed to apply for Kazakh citizenship or permanent residency after their arrival.

Chinese authorities in Xinjiang have launched a massive surveillance and detention campaign that has swept hundreds of thousands and possibly more than a million people into internment camps. Former detainees have said they were forced to renounce their culture and faith and subjected to political indoctrination.

The detentions have sent a chill over a tight-knit community of Chinese-born Kazakhs in Kazakhstan. Many had left China to pursue business opportunities in trade or educate their children in Kazakh schools as restrictions tightened in Xinjiang.

But hundreds also lost contact with relatives in Xinjiang, and many started campaigning to be reunited with loved ones.

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