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Majlis Podcast: Is Central Asia Doing Beijing's Bidding When It Comes To Xinjiang?


On September 4, Kazakhstan blocked scholar Gene Bunin from entering the country.

Kazakh officials could not tell Bunin why he was prevented from entering the country, but they did tell him he was unwelcome in Kazakhstan for the next five years.

Bunin has been one of the leading researchers shedding light on the Chinese government’s abuse of the Muslim peoples of western China’s Xinjiang region, while the Chinese authorities have continued to downplay or deny the severity of the situation in Xinjiang.

Bunin had been working out of Kazakhstan, a country where China has significant investment and influence.

Kazakhstan’s decision to ban Bunin from the country was almost surely related to China’s displeasure at his work chronicling the incarcerations and torture of ethnic Uyghurs, Kazakhs, and other indigenous Muslim peoples in Xinjiang, just across the border from Central Asia.

Meanwhile, lawyers for Uyghur groups have filed evidence with the International Criminal Court that implicates Tajikistan as a being a transit country for extraordinary renditions of Uyghurs back to China.

On this week’s Majlis Podcast, RFE/RL media-relations manager Muhammad Tahir moderates a discussion on the ties that bind Central Asia to China and might incline Central Asian governments to cooperate with China, even in Beijing’s repressions against Muslims.

This week’s guests are: from Washington, Nury Turkel, the commissioner of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom; also from Washington, Sean Roberts, professor of international affairs at George Washington University’s Elliot School of International Affairs and author of the book The War On The Uyghurs: China’s Internal Campaign against Xinjiang’s Muslims; and Bruce Pannier, the author of the Qishloq Ovozi blog.

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