Political Developments - February 2019

Two anti-Chinese protests took place in Kyrgyzstan in January, 2019. These were directed against Beijing’s current crackdown on Muslims in western Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in which 1 million people — ethnic Uyghurs, Kazakhs, and Kyrgyz, have been sent to political re-education camps. Rally organizers, who had anticipated a larger turnout, laid out three demands: inspection of companies employing Chinese workers, a halt to Kyrgyz citizenship being granted to anybody but ethnic Kyrgyz people, and a government audit on how Chinese loans were secured and how the funds are being spent. Disregarding public sentiment about mounting Chinese hegemony in the local economy may portray the government as being indifferent to problem of joblessness. Addressing the complaints of small players meanwhile endows marginal elements with more credibility than perhaps they deserve. President Jeenbekov has taken a combative position and expressed disdain for "trouble-makers trying to foment negative sentiments against Beijing." He and other top officials insist China is a "wholly benevolent partner" and that any attempt to sour the relationship will be dealt with sternly.

Responding to charges of alleged house arrest of its citizens by Chinese authorities, Kazakhstan urged Beijing to act in accordance with law and be fair in its treatment. Kazakhstan issued a statement urging Chinese authorities to only carry out lawful practices in East Turkestan. The statement comes as a response to the reported activities of Kazakh people being detained alongside Uyghurs and placed under house arrest. The Kazakh Foreign Ministry also noted that there are over 1.5 million Kazakh people in China.

According to 2018 World Press Freedom Index published by Reporters Without Borders, Turkmenistan had the third worst press freedom conditions in the world (178th place out of 180 countries), just ahead of Eritrea and North Korea. On The Corruption Perception index 2017 of Transparency International, Turkmenistan scored at 167 out of 180 countries. According to these organisations, Turkmenistan imposes human rights restrictions as an intentional, systemic policy to control every aspect of society.


February 28, 2019

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About the Author

Ambassador Ashok Sajjanhar

Former Ambassador of India to Kazakhstan, Sweden and Latvia; President, Institute of Global Studies and Distinguished Fellow, Ananta Centre

Ambassador Ashok Sajjanhar belongs to the Indian Foreign Service and has acquitted his responsibilities in the diplomatic service for 34 years. He was Ambassador of India to Kazakhstan, Sweden and Latvia and has worked in senior diplomatic positions in Indian Embassies/Missions in Washington DC, Brussels, Moscow, Geneva, Tehran, Dhaka and Bangkok and also at Headquarters in India. He negotiated for India in the Uruguay Round of Multilateral Trade Negotiations and in negotiations for India-EU, India-ASEAN and India-Thailand Free Trade Agreements.

He contributed significantly to strengthening strategic ties and promoting cultural cooperation between India and USA, EU, Russia and other countries.Ambassador Sajjanhar worked as head of National Foundation for Communal Harmony to promote amity and understanding between different religions, faiths and beliefs. Ambassador Sajjanhar has been decorated by Governments of Kazakhstan and Latvia with their National Awards and by Universal Peace Federation with Title of ''Ambassador of Peace.'' Currently Ambassador Sajjanhar is President of Institute of Global Studies, New Delhi. He writes, travels and speaks extensively on issues relating to international relations, foreign policy and themes of contemporary relevance and significance. He appears widely on TV panel discussions. Ambassador Sajjanhar is interested in reading, music and travelling. His wife Madhu is an economist and an educationist. They have a son and a daughter both of who are accomplished singers. Their son passed out of Yale University and their daughter is pursuing her PhD at University of Minnesota.