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What Happens When China’s Kazakhs Flee To Kazakhstan?

Murager Alimuly (right) and Kaster Musahanuly are seen in the defendants' cage at their trial on January 6 in Zaysan.

At a January 21 trial in Kazakhstan’s eastern town of Zaysan, a court found Kaster Musahanuly and Murager Alimuly guilty of illegally crossing into Kazakhstan from China.

They were sentenced to one year in prison, though the court took time already served in detention into account, so the two former residents of China’s western Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region will be freed from custody in less than six months.

More importantly, they will not be sent back to China, where more than 1 million Muslims -- Uyghurs, Kyrgyz, Kazakhs, and others -- are confined in so-called “reeducation camps,” but it is unclear what will happen after they are out of prison.

SPECIAL PROJECT: Locked Up In China: The Plight Of Xinjiang's Muslims

On this week's Majlis podcast, RFE/RL's media-relations manager, Muhammad Tahir, moderates a discussion on what has been happening to ethnic Kazakhs from Xinjiang when they illegally cross the border and reach Kazakhstan.

From Kazakhstan, Serikzhan Bilash, a Kazakh from Xinjiang who obtained Kazakh citizenship and founded the Kazakhstan-based Atajurt movement that has shed so much light on what is happening in Xinjiang, participates in the discussion.

Daniyar Kossenov, a co-founder of the Kazakh rights group Qaharman, takes part. And we are also joined from Kazakhstan by Aigerim Toleukhan, an old Majlis friend who now works for RFE/RL’s Kazakh Service, known locally as Azattyq. And I pitch in a remark of two.

Podcast: What Happens When China’s Kazakhs Flee To Kazakhstan?
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About Majlis

Each week, hosts Bruce Pannier and Muhammad Tahir welcome a panel of expert guests to discuss significant political developments and pressing social issues affecting the nations of Central Asia.

Click here to check out the latest Majlis podcast, or visit ITunes.