Murager Alimuly and Qaster Musakhanuly are on trial for crossing the border into Kazakhstan. If they were returned to China, they risk persecution in Xinjiang detention camps, where they have already been imprisoned.
Nur-Sultan (AsiaNews / Agencies) - A court in Kazakhstan has postponed the deportation of two men of Kazakh origin who escaped from China last October.
The defendants are Murager Alimuly and Qaster Musakhanuly.
Their trial, scheduled for January 6 in the city of Zaisan, has been postponed thanks to pressure from activists, who ask for their release to prevent them from returning to detention camps in the Chinese autonomous region of Xinjiang.
The two men are in jail on charges of illegally crossing the border with Kazakhstan. They asked the Nur-Sultan authorities for political asylum to escape the persecution already suffered.
Musakhanuly, 30, spent five years in one of the centers that Beijing authorities call "reeducation camps" in Xinjiang. Alimuly, 25, was interrogated in China and was due to be transferred to a camp.
Hundreds of activists organized protests and demonstrations in support of the two arrested in the capital and Almaty. The judge, Ms. Shynar Ospanova, postponed the hearing until January 21, after hearing their testimony.
Lazzat Akhatova, a lawyer for the prosecution, filed a motion of no confidence against the judge, defining the reason for the postponement as "inadequate".
In the Chinese region of Xinjiang, the Kazakhs represent the second largest ethnic group after the Uyghurs. The autonomous territory also hosts a good number of Kirgizi, Tajik and Hui. For all these ethnic minorities, the predominant religion is Islam. Beijing accuses them of separatism and terrorism, justifying a harsh military control policy.
The UN has repeatedly asked to visit Xinjiang to verify the abuse against detainees, in particular the Uyghurs. China is accused of having locked up at least one million of them against their will, brainwashed to weaken their attachment to the Islamic faith, which is considered a form of "radicalization".