Afghanistan
tajikistan

Russia-led bloc in war games on Afghan border

Some 5,000 troops from member states of the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) initiated military maneuvers code-named “Echelon-2021” in Tajikistan near the border with Afghanistan. More than half of the troops involved are Russian. Gen. Anatoly Sidorov, head of the CSTO joint staff, said in a statement: “We pay special attention to the Central Asian region. The situation around the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan remains the main source of instability.” China is meanwhile said to have taken over an old Soviet outpost in Tajikistan near the Wakhan Corridor, Afghanistan’s eastern “panhandle,” where the People’s Liberation Army is conducting joint drills with Tajik forces and monitoring the situation on the border. (Map: CIA via PCL Map Collection)

Central Asia
Uyghur

Uyghur Tribunal in UK hears testimony on abuses

The Uyghur Tribunal, an “independent people’s court” convened by exile and human rights groups, concluded after months of hearings in London. Following a request from the World Uyghur Congress, the Tribunal was organized last year by Sir Geoffrey Nice­, the lead prosecutor for the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. The Tribunal heard testimony from some 500 witnesses, including survivors of the detention camps in Xinjiang, on torture, sexual abuse, coerced labor, and forced sterilization. (Photo via Coda)

Planet Watch
PLARF

China: rapid expansion of nuclear missile silo fields

Satellite images reveal that China is building two new nuclear missile silo fields. The Federation of American Scientists reports that the People’s Liberation Army Rocket Force (PLARF) appears to be constructing new missile silos near Yumen, Gansu province, and at another site some 380 kilometers to the northwest, near Hami in Xinjiang. The construction at Yumen and Hami constitutes the most significant expansion ever of China’s inter-continental ballistic missile silos. China has for decades operated about 20 silos for its DF-5 ICBMs. With 120 silos under construction at Yumen, another 110 silos at Hami, a dozen silos at Jilantai, Inner Mongolia, and possibly more silos being added in existing DF-5 deployment areas, the PLARF appears to have approximately 250 silos under construction—more than ten times the number of ICBM silos currently in operation in China. (Photo: Federation of American Scientists)

Central Asia
uighur women

‘Genocide’ seen in PRC Uighur birth-control policy

An Australian think-tank released a report on the declining birth rates among the Uighur population in China’s western Xinjiang province, concluding that birth-control policies imposed on the Uighurs by the People’s Republic of China may constitute genocide. The Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) analyzed the publicly-available data on birthrates in China from 2011 to 2019, and found that birth rates among the Uighur ethnic minority dropped precipitously starting in 2017. The birth rate fell by almost half in the predominately Uighur province of Xinjiang, where a campaign to eliminate “illegal births” is being carried out. (Photo of Uighur women in Xinjiang: mikepryan via Wikimedia)

Central Asia
kyrgyzstan

Kyrgyz-Tajik border clash over control of water

The armed forces of Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan clashed at a disputed section of their border, leaving 30 dead and thousands displaced before a ceasefire was declared. The fighting broke out near the strategic Golovnoi water pumping facility, in the Tajik-controlled exclave of Vorukh. Kyrgyz protesters gathered on their side of the de facto border after Tajik authorities installed surveillance cameras at the facility. The two sides began hurling rocks across the line before military troops intervened. The Golovnoi facility pumps water from the Isfara River, a tributary of the Syr Darya, to irrigate agriculture in the area. It is in the Fergana Valley, a small fertile pocket in the arid Central Asia region. Soviet authorities drew the boundaries so that Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan each got a portion of it. However, this meant intricate, twisting borders, and territorial disputes have arisen. Tajik authorities accuse Kyrgyzstan of seeking to seize the Vorukh exclave. (Map: Perry-Castañeda Library)

Central Asia
KAZfem

Kazakhstan: women sentenced for opposition activism

A court in Kazakhstan sentenced two activists to two years of “freedom limitation” (similar to probation) for their involvement with banned political groups. The court in the southern city of Taraz found Nazira Lesova and Nazira Lepesova guilty of organizing and participating in prohibited demonstrations as part of their activities with the groups Koshe (Street) Party and Democratic Choice of Kazakhstan (DCK). The sentences came two days after Zhazira Qambarova, another DCK activist, received two years of “freedom limitation” for similar activities. The three women, detained in February, are among several activists across Kazakhstan who have been arrested for participating in demonstrations including marches in support of women’s rights and calling for pro-democratic reforms. (Image: KazFem)

Central Asia
kyrgyzstan

Kyrgyz ex-PM arrested for mineral corruption

The State Committee for National Security of Kyrgyzstan reported the detention of former prime minister Mukhammedkalyi Abylgaziev on charges of corruption and illegal enrichment. The State Committee alleges that during his tenure as prime minister, Abylgaziev violated the law by signing a government decree providing Kumtor Gold Company additional territories for geological exploration and gold mining. Consequently, the total area of the mine doubled, contravening a previous decree banning the expansion of the mine so as to protect the fragile ecosystem of the Issyk-Kul Lake region. (Map: Perry-Castañeda Library)

Central Asia
Uighurs

Huawei ethnicity-recognition tech tracks Uighurs

Top Chinese technology firms have registered patents for tools apparently designed to detect, track and monitor Uighurs, according to research by the Pennsylvania-based video surveillance watchdog group IPVM. A 2018 patent filed by Shenzhen-based tech giant Huaweiwith the State Intellectual Property Office lists attributes by which an individual may be targeted, including “race (Han, Uighur).” IPVM also released details of a document issued by Huawei and its Beijing-based corporate partner Megvii, dubbed an “Interoperability Test Report,” which boasted of a “Uighur alarm” among the “basic functions of Megvii’s facial recognition system.” Said Rushan Abbas, executive director of the DC-based Campaign for Uyghurs: “We cannot ignore the fact that these technologies have been developed in order to be able to efficiently carry out…brutal oppression.”  (Photo: Mvslim.com)

Central Asia
uighur women

China-Turkey extradition treaty to target Uighurs

China announced the ratification of an extradition treaty with Turkey that it intends to use,inter alia, to accelerate the return of refugees and Uighur Muslims suspected of “terrorism.” Since the 1950s, Turkey has welcomed Uighurs fleeing persecution in China. Uighurs and Turks have linguistic, cultural and religious ties. Currently, more than 50,000 Uighurs call Turkey home. While the treaty does provide grounds for refusal of extradition on the basis of Turkish citizenship, it is feared by many Uighurs that Chinese persecution will follow them to Turkey. “This extradition treaty will cause worry among Uighurs who have fled China and do not yet have Turkish citizenship,” Dilxat Raxit, spokesman for the Germany-based World Uyghur Congress, told AFP. (Photo of Uighur women in Xinjiang: mikepryan via Wikimedia)

Central Asia
ET-Gulag-Archipelago

ICC prosecutor rejects Uighur genocide complaint

International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutors rejected a complaint filed by exiled Uighurs calling for an investigation of China on charges of genocide and crimes against humanity. The complaint was dismissed on jurisdictional grounds; the People’s Republic of China, like the United States, does not recognize the ICC. But on the question of forcible removal from countries where the ICC does have jurisdiction, the text of the rejection parsed definitions very closely. While acknowledging forced deportations of Uighurs from Tajikistan and Cambodia back to China to face potential internment and persecution, the ICC stated: “Not all conduct which involves the forcible removal of persons from a location necessarily constitutes the crime of forcible transfer or deportation.” (Photo: ETNAM)

Central Asia
kyrgyzstan

Kyrgyzstan: ‘authoritarian’ new constitution unveiled

Lawmakers in Kyrgyzstan unveiled a new constitution, drawing criticism over the expansion of presidential powers. Shortly after the draft was released, politicians and activists expressedconcerns that it could lead to full-blown authoritarianism. Among many changes, it reduces the size and power of parliament, with responsibilities transferred to the presidency. One section banning anything that contravenes “generally recognized moral values and the traditions of the people of Kyrgyzstan” has especially raised human rights concerns. Among those pushing for the new charter is Sadyr Japarov, who briefly served as acting president after escaping from prison during unrest in the wake of the contested October parliamentary elections. He resigned to run for president, which the current constitution barred him from doing while serving as president. Elections for both the presidency and approval of the new constitution are to be held in January. (Map: Perry-Castañeda Library)

Central Asia
East Turkistan

ETIM dropped from US ‘terrorist’ list: how real?

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that he is revoking the “terrorist organization” designation of the supposed “East Turkestan Islamic Movement”—an entity that may not actually exist in any organized sense but has been used to justify China’s mass detention of the Uighurs in Xinjiang region. Reaction has been perfectly predictable. The Washington-based Uighur Human Rights Project called Pompeo’s decision “long overdue” and a “definitive rejection of China’s claims.” It was likewise applauded by the DC-based self-declared East Turkistan Government in Exile. Beijing’s Foreign Ministry accused the US of “backpedaling on international counter-terrorism cooperation,” and expressed China’s “strong dissatisfaction and firm opposition to the US decision.” (Map: East Turkistan National Awakening Movement)