Fri, 26 Feb 2021

ALMATY, Kazakhstan -- Two ethnic Kazakhs from China's northwestern province of Xinjiang with temporary refugee status in Kazakhstan have been violently attacked in the Central Asian country.

Bekzat Maqsutkhan of the Naghyz Atazhurt (Real Fatherland) human rights group told RFE/RL that, late on January 21, an unknown assailant attacked Qaisha Aqan near her house in Almaty, hitting her head at least twice with a heavy object before trying to suffocate her.

'Qaisha says she lost consciousness and woke up some time later lying in the snow. She was then able to call police and an ambulance,' Maqsutkhan said.

Lawyer Gulmira Quatbekqyzy told RFE/RL that Aqan refused to stay in hospital fearing for her safety and is currently at home.

On the same night, another ethnic Kazakh from Xinjiang, Murager Alimuly, was knifed and severely beaten in the village of Qoyandy near Nur-Sultan, the capital.

Alimuly told RFE/RL that two unknown men suddenly stabbed him with a knife and hit his head and back with a metal bar as he was going home.

'The knife did not penetrate deep into my body because it hit a power-bank gadget in my pocket, which saved me,' Alimuly said.

Police in Almaty and Nur-Sultan told RFE/RL that probes have been launched into the two attacks.

Aqan and Alimuly are two of several ethnic Kazakhs from Xinjiang residing in Kazakhstan. They had been convicted for illegally crossing the Chinese-Kazakh border in recent years, but received temporary refugee status in Kazakhstan in October.

They have insisted that they fled China fearing that they would be placed in so-called reeducation camps for indigenous ethnic groups in Xinjiang.

The U.S. State Department has said that as many as 2 million Uyghurs, Kazakhs, and members of Xinjiang's other indigenous, mostly Muslim, ethnic groups have been taken to detention centers.

China denies that the facilities are internment camps.

Kazakhs are the second-largest Turkic-speaking indigenous community in Xinjiang after Uyghurs.

The region is also home to ethnic Kyrgyz, Tajiks, and Hui, also known as Dungans.

Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Republished with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036

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