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Chinese Internment Camp Whistleblower Seeks Asylum in Sweden

An ethnic Kazakh Chinese national who exposed the existence of a so-called Muslim reeducation camp in the Xinjiang region will seek asylum in Sweden.

A lawyer for Sayragul Sauytbay said she and her family left Almaty on Monday after Kazakhstan refused to grant her asylum there.

Swedish officials gave her an aliens’ passport, but have not said if they will approve her asylum request.

Sauytbay is a Chinese citizen with Kazakh heritage. Police arrested her last year when she fled China into Kazakhstan to join her family. She entered the country with forged documents because China had confiscated her passport.

Sauytbay testified at her trial that Chinese officials forced her to work in an indoctrination camp in the Xinjiang region where about 2,500 ethnic Kazakhs were interred.

She is the only person who worked in one of these camps to speak out publicly about the existence of such places.

The Kazakh court freed Sauytbay after a public protest. But Kazakh authorities refused her asylum request. She had said she is afraid to return to China because the government “wants me to keep silent.” 

U.N. officials say China has turned northwestern Xinjiang province into “something that resembles a massive internment camp.”

They believe as many as 1 million Muslims, including Kazakhs, Uighurs, and Han, are in the camps and being force-fed political indoctrination.

China denies the allegations of indoctrination. It calls the camps “vocational education centers” aimed at countering religious extremism.

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