Stephen M. Bland
Freelance Journalist, Award-Winning Author, Travel Writer, Researcher and Editor specialising in Central Asia and the Caucasus.
Ethnic Kazakh Asylum Seekers from China Attacked in Kazakhstan – Exclusive Interview with Serikzhan Bilash
First Published 23/01/2020
In the wake of three separate attacks on ethnic Kazakh asylum seekers who fled from China which occurred simultaneously on Thursday, Serikzhan Bilash spoke to me from America, where he is meeting with media and researchers. ‘An ethnic Kazakh who escaped from Xinjiang, a lady called Kaisha Akan who crossed the border illegally, was today suddenly set upon by unknown persons in Almaty,’ he told me. ‘In a second incident, two young Kazakh guys who escaped from Xinjiang together and crossed the Kazakh-China border illegally were attacked with knives in Nur-Sultan by unknown assailants. They are former detainees who have talked about life inside the re-education camps. These things happened at the same time but in different cities. I believe this was organised by the CCP.
Murager Alimuly is in a critical condition in hospital, whilst in the attack on Akan, none of her personal effects were stolen. Akan and Alimuly were convicted by Kazakh courts for crossing into Kazakhstan illegally in 2019 and 2020 respectively, but the courts opted not to return them to China, and both were granted temporary asylum by the Kazakh authorities. Akan has complained of tight surveillance by local security services.
‘Around ten PM, on my way home from the grocery store, two strangers suddenly attacked me,’ said Akan. ‘One was holding an iron rod in his hand, the other was holding a knife, and he stabbed me. Fortunately, the knife struck the power bank in my pocket twice, so it only scratched my belly, but the other person hit me severely with the iron rod. My back hurts terribly. After I fell down, they started kicking me. I barely managed to crawl until I got to the side of the road. After I was released from detention, I didn’t offend anyone and I have no enemies. I am sure this incident is no accident. It must have something to do with China.'