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Tatarstan Picketer Protests Against China’s Alleged Persecution Of Muslims

Rafik Karimullin
Rafik Karimullin

KAZAN, Russia -- A Tatar activist held a one-man picket in the capital of Russia's republic of Tatarstan to denounce what he called the Chinese authorities’ persecution of the country’s Muslims.

Rafik Karimullin of the Azatliq (Freedom) Tatar Youth Union stood on November 21 in front of the Chinese Consulate in Kazan with a poster reading, "China! Stop the genocide of the Muslim peoples, our brothers, Uyghurs, Tatars, Kyrgyz, and Kazakhs!"

The city authorities had refused to allow a larger demonstration.

Investigations by the United Nations revealed in August that an estimated 1 million Muslims from China’s northwestern province of Xinjiang were being held in "counterextremism centers" and millions more have been forced into reeducation camps.

China denies the facilities are internment camps.

Officials say they are part of a "vocational education and training program" that helps people to "see clearly the essence and harm of terrorism and religious extremism."

Uyghurs are the largest indigenous community in Xinjiang, followed by Kazakhs, and the region is also home to ethnic Kyrgyz, Tajik, and Hui, also known as Dungans.

An estimated 8,000 ethnic Tatars are living in the region.

Han, China's largest ethnicity, are the second-largest community in Xinjiang, which borders Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Pakistan, Russia, and Tajikistan.