Kaisha Akan and Murager Alimuly, two ethnic Kazakhs who escaped from Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in China and crossed the Kazakh-Chinese border illegally, were brutally beaten after having been repeatedly warned not to talk about the situation in Xinjiang.
Kaisha claimed she escaped just in time before being taken to a re-education camp, and Murager also reported Chinese police were after him because he maintained a Kazakh identity.
Kaisha and Murager have been granted temporary refugee status in Kazakhstan. However, they are not safe there.
Both of them were attacked in the night of January 21. Kaisha contacted immediately Bekzat Maxutkan, a human rights activist and the head of the unregistered “Real Atajurt” organization. He said that Kaisha Akan was attacked at night near her home.
“Kaisha called…Her voice was barely audible. ‘I was beaten,’ she said. Her husband was not at home. She went out to the market. On the way home from the market, someone came out of a dark corner and beat her on the head with an iron object. He struck twice, dragged her, and hit her harder. Kaisha lost her consciousness at that time. She was unconscious, and completely frozen,” Bekzat said.
Police and an ambulance were called to the scene. Kaisha was taken to the hospital. According to her lawyer, Gulmira Kuatbekovna, “now Kaisha’s condition is normal: she is conscious and can speak. There are hematomas on the head and face.”
Kaisha was unable to receive the treatment she needed after a surgery last summer. She refused to remain in the hospital, saying she did not feel safe there.
Kaisha and her lawyer do not consider this incident an accidental attack. It looks more like something of a warning. The criminal did not steal anything, not even her documents.
However, Kaisha had noticed suspicious activity before. Strangers came to the building where she rents an apartment, and asked about Kaisha Akan. Her relatives in China were also threatened, and warned not to report human rights abuses.
It is probably not a coincidence that on the same night Murager Alimuly was also attacked.
According to Bekzat, on the night of January 21, Murager’s relatives also called him, and reported that Murager had been stabbed by unknown individuals. “Murager’s sister called from Nur-Sultan,” Bekzat said. “Two people stabbed him in two places. Kaisha was attacked by one person, and Murager by two people.”
Murager had a square power bank in his pocket, which prevented the stab from penetrating more deeply. “He sent videos, claiming that the ambulance he called was being taken away,” Bekzat said, adding that, according to their reports, Kaisha and Murager were attacked simultaneously.