BISHKEK -- Demonstrators who protested against Beijing's policies towards the indigenous Muslim peoples of China's northwestern Xinjiang region have been fined.
Kyrgyz Interior Ministry spokesman Bakyt Seitov told RFE/RL on January 18 that 21 activists were found guilty of disrupting public order and fined 3,000 soms ($45) each.
The activists were detained on January 17 when some 500 people rallied at Bishkeks Ala-Too Square, expressing support for ethnic Kyrgyz who they said were being persecuted in reeducation camps in China's Xinjiang.
The demonstrators also urged authorities to deport what they say are hundreds of thousands of illegal Chinese migrants in Kyrgyzstan.
Foreign Ministry official Almaz Imangaziev met with some activists on January 17 and told them that all migrants from China were residing and working in Kyrgyzstan legally.
However, activists at the meeting disagreed and said that all Chinese businesses in the Central Asian country should be checked in an effort to locate illegal immigrants.
Following similar protests in Bishkek in recent months, President Sooronbai Jeenbekov warned on January 11 that 'those trying to disrupt the Kyrgyz-Chinese partnership' would face legal prosecution.
The United Nations said in August that an estimated 1 million Muslims from Xinjiang were being held in 'counterextremism centers.'
The UN also said millions more had been forced into reeducation camps.
China denies that the facilities are internment camps.
Uyghurs are the largest indigenous community in Xinjiang, followed by Kazakhs. The region is also home to ethnic Kyrgyz, Tajiks, and Hui, also known as Dungans.
Han, China's largest ethnicity, are the second-largest community in Xinjiang.
RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service
RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service is one of the most trusted sources of news and information in Kyrgyzstan, especially at times of political turmoil. Azattyk's reports are regularly cited and reprinted by local and regional media.
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