American researcher banned from entry into Kazakhstan for five years
In an announcement made on September 4, the founder of Xinjiang Victims Database, which gathers information on the Uyghur victims of Chinese repression, stated that he has been banned from entering the territory of Kazakhstan. The reasons for this have yet to be given by the Kazakh government.
This article was originally published on Novastan’s French website on 16 September 2021.
“I’ve been banned from entering Kazakhstan for 5 years. Found out about this just now.” Those are the words Evgeny Bunin used to share the news on his Facebook account from Almaty International Airport, one of the biggest cities in South-East Kazakhstan.
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A Russian-American researcher, Evgeny Bunin is famous for creating the database Shahit.biz in September 2018 which has registered next to 24 thousands victims of Chinese repression, notably Uyghurs – largely Muslim, Turkish-speaking people suffering persecution based on ethnic and religious belonging. The NGO Human Rights Watch believes that nearly one million people are being held captive in Chinese re-education camps.
A familiar-looking entry ban
Evgeny Bunin has already been banned from entering a country in the past. In 2019 and 2020, he was denied entry into Uzbekistan. The border guards who gave him official notice that he was not permitted to enter also told him about a “personal ban.” “It all probably started when I met political scientist Anwar Nazir and his journalist and activist friends,” he said in an interview with Fergana News, a Russian media specialized on Central Asia.
He also told Fergana News that he had to leave China for political reasons in 2018. “The Chinese authorities made me leave Kashgar, where I lived at the time. That was done indirectly rather than directly: they closed down the inn that I was staying at. They had everyone go away, but all the others managed to find a place to live, which, for some reason, I couldn’t. Everywhere I went, there were always “good” reasons why I couldn’t stay. Eventually I had to leave Xinjiang; there was no other choice.”
Reached out by Novastan, Evgeny Bunin declined to comment. He stated that he “took a step back from society in May and no longer performs public activities, including interviews.” As of now, it is unclear whether or not such a ban will have an impact on the database, which remains a major tool for accessing information on the Chinese state’s activities.
Writer for Novastan.org
Translated from French by Andreï Fedorovsky
Edited by Fiona Katherine Smith