Kazakh man commits suicide after China confiscates passport

Xinjiang minority citizens are forced by local
authorities to watch CCTV, a state-run news
channel known as a propaganda outlet for the
Communist Party. (Photo: ChinaAid)


(Ili Kazakh, Xinjiang —March 18, 2018) A Kazakh man who returned to western China after immigrating to Kazakhstan committed suicide last week after Chinese police confiscated his passport, preventing him from returning to his wife and children.

Mamajiang Ashandeer returned to his hometown in Tekes County of the Ili Kazakh Autonomous Prefecture in China’s far western Xinjiang region on Sept. 17, 2017. Upon his return, local public security officers confiscated his Chinese passport, most likely due to the fact that China revokes Chinese citizenship for anyone who permanently settles in a foreign country.

For six months, Mamajiang was trapped in China, unable to return to his family in Almaty, Kazakhstan. With his Chinese passport invalidated and taken away, he had no way of obtaining a passport from another country, making it impossible for him to legally cross the border.

Villagers in his hometown found his body on Tuesday, March 13, after he committed suicide five days previous on March 8. His body was buried in China, and local authorities forbade any kind of “religious rituals.” His wife in Kazakhstan organized a funeral for him there, though they will not have his body for the ceremony.

Currently, friends of the family are sending food and money to his wife and two 10-year-old children, but they worry how they will support themselves with Mamajiang no longer providing for them.

Dilxat Raxit, spokesman for the World Uyghur Congress headquartered in Germany, expressed his grief over the tragic death. The Uyghurs, like the Kazakhs, are a historically Muslim minority group, and both groups have many members in Xinjiang.

“The Chinese government uses coercive measures to confiscate [foreign] residents’ Chinese passports,” Dilxat said. “It is very common in Xinjiang. The government persecutes both Kazakhs and Uyghurs. The Uyghurs also suffer from government suppression. The government has taken away the passports of Uyghurs who travelled abroad and forbade them to leave the country.”

The tragic suicide is a stark reminder of the dangers former Chinese nationals face if they return to China after they have leaving the country, especially Chinese Kazakhs who move to Kazakhstan. On Feb. 26, the Chinese embassy in Astana, Kazakhstan issued a “special warning” that former Chinese residents should return to their hometowns in China to cancel their registered permanent address. Many emigrated Kazakhs fear this warning is a trap and an opportunity for Chinese authorities confiscate the travel documents of any who return.

ChinaAid reports on human rights violations, such as the events leading to the suicide of Mamajiang Ashandeer, in order to expose abuses committed by the Chinese government and promote religious freedom and rule of law.

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