by Yi Xiaocuo
On December 9, 2019, Kazakhstan National Security Committee announced the decision that Murager Alimuly and Qaster Musakhanuly, two young Kazakh men who fled Xinjiang, will be deported to China. This angered Kazakhstan public and it echoed with public discontent toward the ongoing state oppression of civil society since the fake election last June. In 2018, the Kazakhstan state already violated UN convention against torture and declined Sayragul Sauytbay‘s asylum seeker status.
Witnessing all this, Aigul, A young activist in Kazakhstan, protested with her bodily art. The big inky print “Xinjiang” masks her eyes. A nod of solidarity to the too many injured Hong Kong protesters under police brutality, but also a criticism on Kazakhstan’s blind complicity with China’s facial recognition technology.
After Aigul posted it on the social media, her friends and colleagues from the Kazakhstan civil group “Oyan Qazaqstan” (literally means “Wake up Kazakhstan”) also joined her to express discontent toward Kazakhstan government’s decision to deport Murager Alimuly and Qaster Musakhanuly to China. Many people also videotaped their petition against deportation and uploaded onto the internet.
Aigul said, “We want people to stop closing their eyes about Xinjiang. We need to talk about what’s happening in Xinjiang openly.”
“Oyan Qazaq” was originally a poem by Mirzhakyp Dulatuli who called for Kazakhs to awaken and see their social problems. The poem was published in 1911 and later the poet was sent to exile by the Soviet authority.
Open your eyes, awaken Kazakhs and stand up.this translation is from Zhanar Abdigapbarova, Nazarbayev University
Do not spend your youth in darkness.
The land is lost, the religion is gone,
My Kazakhs, there is no time to rest.
On January 21, 2020, the court decided that Murager Alimuly and Qaster Musakhanuly would receive one-year sentence but would not be deported back to China.