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Ethnic Kazakh man dies at Chinese police station

Local people too afraid to talk after man beaten to death for asking police about missing brother

Ethnic Kazakh man dies at Chinese police station

Chinese police remove a camera from a journalist at a checkpoint on a road in the Xinjiang region in this June 28 file photo. Police in Barkol Kazakh Autonomous County in Kumul prefecture have been accused of beating an ethnic Kazakh man to death for asking the whereabouts of his missing brothers. (Photo by Mark Ralston/AFP)

September 11, 2017

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An ethnic Kazakh man has died in custody in China's Xinjiang region after he went to police to enquire about the whereabouts of two of his brothers who had "disappeared," sources have said.

Omirzakh Markhan, 36, died in custody in Barköl Kazakh Autonomous County in Kumul prefecture on the Muslim feast-day of Eid al-Adha, the sources told Radio Free Asia (RFA).

He was detained on Sept. 1 when he went to ask about his missing brothers, and later died while in police custody.

"He was beaten to death at the police department," one ethnic Kazakh resident said.

Police when contacted denied the allegation.

However, a second source confirmed the story, saying Markhan was the elder brother who went to ask after his younger siblings.

"When they had detained the eldest and beaten him to death, they then took him back to his family," the source said.

"They said they had unintentionally beaten him to death."

The Markhan family was warned not to speak about the incident.

A Kazakh activist who recently visited the area said nobody was willing to talk about it.

"Everyone in the village is frightened, because they aren't allowed to let this information get out," the activist told RFA.

Chinese authorities are believed to be holding a number of ethnic minority Kazakhs for wearing "Islamic" clothing and praying, a practice forbidden by the Communist Party on university campuses across the country.

Many have also been detained, intimidated, and had their passports and other documents confiscated because they have family members living or studying overseas.

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