China thanks Kazakhstan for ‘support’ of Xinjiang crackdown

Kazakhstan's Foreign Minister Beibut Atamkulov (2L) with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi (L) attend a signing ceremony at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing on March 28, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 29 March 2019
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China thanks Kazakhstan for ‘support’ of Xinjiang crackdown

  • UN said China is holding one million ethnic Uighurs and other mostly Muslim groups in internment camps in the heavily policed region
  • Beijing has rejected the accusations and says it runs education training centers

BEIJI: China has thanked Kazakhstan for supporting its crackdown on the restive far west region of Xinjiang, where Beijing is accused of rights abuses against minority groups, including ethnic Kazakhs.
China is holding one million ethnic Uighurs and other mostly Muslim groups in internment camps in the heavily policed region, according to estimates cited by a UN panel.
Beijing has rejected the accusations and says it runs education training centers as part of its fight against Islamist extremism and separatism in Xinjiang.
On Thursday, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi met his Kazakhstan counterpart Beibut Atamkulov in Beijing.
According to a statement by the Chinese foreign ministry, Atamkulov said his country “understands and supports the measures taken by China’s Xinjiang region” to rein in terrorism, separatism and extremism.
“We appreciate the Kazakhstan government’s understanding and support for China’s position,” said Wang, according to the statement.
“We will never allow anyone, any force, to undermine China-Kazakhstan friendship and mutual trust,” he added.
The Kazakhstan foreign ministry did not mention Xinjiang in its own statement on Atamkulov’s visit to China.
But it said the two top diplomats discussed the “issue of the situation with ethnic Kazakhs living in” China.
The two sides “stressed a mutual interest in resolving emerging issues through working contacts” between the foreign ministries and an agreement was reached “on the revitalization of consular services,” the statement added.
Oil-rich Kazakhstan, which shares a border with the Xinjiang region, has been treading a diplomatic tightrope since major trading partner China began to forcibly send ethnic Kazakhs to internment camps under its anti-extremism policy.
One former detainee, a Kazakh national who was born in Xinjiang, told AFP that the camps only had one objective — to strip detainees of their religious belief.
Omir Bekali, who was arrested in 2017 after he returned to Xinjiang on a business trip for his Kazakh travel agency, said camp inmates were forbidden to pray or grow a beard, and forced to eat pork on Fridays, which is a holy day for Muslims.
Earlier this month, Xinjiang rights activist Serikjan Bilash, who has led an awareness drive centered on ethnic Kazakh victims of China’s crackdown in the region, was arrested in Kazakhstan.
He was charged with inciting inter-ethnic hatred, but later released from detention and handed two months of house arrest.
In October, an escaped Chinese national whose court testimony described a secretive network of re-education camps was denied political asylum in Kazakhstan, where her family lives.


Macron meets Syrian Kurds, vows French support in fight against Daesh

Updated 3 min 36 sec ago
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Macron meets Syrian Kurds, vows French support in fight against Daesh

  • Macron assured the SDF representatives, who were not named, of the "active support of France in the fight against Daesh which continues to be a menace for collective security"
  • European capitals are all keeping a careful eye on the Daesh prisoners held by the SDF after the defeat of the extremists, given many are dual nationals

PARIS: President Emmanuel Macron on Friday hosted representatives of the Kurdish-led force that defeated Daesh extremists in Syria, assuring them of France's support in the fight against remaining extremists.
The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) had in late March flushed out Daesh from their last bastion in Syria but still warn the terrorists remain a threat in places.
The SDF is an umbrella force of Kurds and Arabs dominated by Kurds from the People's Protection Units (YPG) militia. It is regarded with huge distrust by neighbouring Turkey which sees the YPG as a terror group.
Macron assured the SDF representatives, who were not named, of the "active support of France in the fight against Daesh which continues to be a menace for collective security," the presidency said in a statement.
Particularly important was the support in the "handling of terrorist fighters held as prisoners along with their families."
European capitals are all keeping a careful eye on the Daesh prisoners held by the SDF after the defeat of the extremists, given many are dual nationals.
Macron also vowed that financial support would be allocated to "respond to the humanitarian needs and the socio-economic stabilisation of civilian populations in Syria."
The SDF were the key ally of the West in defeating Daesh and waged the bulk of the fighting on the ground.
But they fear being abandoned by their patrons now Daesh is beaten, after US President Donald Trump announced the withdrawal of American forces from Syria.
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian had in April announced one million euros ($1.1 million) in humanitarian aid for camps housing displaced people, notably Al-Hol which holds thousands of women and children who lived in Daesh-held areas.
France's past contacts with the SDF's Syrian Kurds have angered Turkey, which regards the YPG as the Syrian branch of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).
The PKK has waged a 35-year insurrection against the Turkish state.
Macron also made clear of the importance to Paris of "the security of Turkey and a de-escalation along the Syrian-Turkish border," the presidency said.