The demonstration and detentions in Almaty took place as Kazakh President Qasym-Zhomart Toqaev (right) met in Astana with Ma Xingrui (left), the Communist Party secretary in Xinjiang, on March 27.
Police detained three Kazakh activists in Almaty on March 27 after they demonstrated near the Chinese consulate to demand the release of their relatives from China’s Xinjiang Province.
Activists Akikat Kaliolla, Nurzat Yermekbay, and Zauatkhan Tursyn were taken to the police department of the Medeu district, according to another activist, Baibolat Kunbolatuly, son of Tursyn. They were held at the police department for several hours and released without charge, Kunbolatuly told RFE/RL.
There was no comment from authorities, and calls by RFE/RL to the police department were not answered.
Kaliolla published a video on Facebook purporting to show the demonstrators and police officers following behind them.
One of the demonstrators, Almakhan Myrzan, held a photograph of her brother, religious researcher Baqytkhan Myrzan, who died earlier this month in custody in a penitentiary in Xinjiang.
Myrzan sharply condemned the authorities for her brother's death, which she confirmed to RFE/RL on March 9. He had been sentenced to 14 years in prison in 2018 for performing an Islamic ritual at a religious event.
She also said that authorities in Xinjiang had ignored demands by Myrzan's relatives in China and Kazakhstan to release him due to a medical condition.
Almakhan Myrzan has been among dozens of people who for more than two years have been picketing the Chinese Embassy in Astana and the consulate in Almaty to demand the release of relatives held in correctional facilities in China.
China has been accused of human rights violations against Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities over the existence of mass detention camps in Xinjiang Province. The crackdown has seen Uyghurs, Kazakhs, Kyrgyz, and Xinjiang's other indigenous ethnic groups sent to the camps.
Beijing denies the facilities are internment camps, saying its actions are aimed at combating terrorism, but people who have fled the province say people from the ethnic groups are undergoing "political indoctrination" at a network of facilities officially referred to as reeducation camps.
The demonstration and detentions in Almaty took place as Kazakh President Qasym-Zhomart Toqaev met in Astana with Ma Xingrui, the Communist Party secretary in Xinjiang.
Toqaev hailed the "eternal friendship" with Beijing as he welcomed the "deepening all-round cooperation with China," Kazakhstan's presidency said.
China is among key investors in the oil-rich country, which is home to a large Uyghur diaspora, while around 1.5 million ethnic Kazakhs live in Xinjiang.
Ma said Kazakhstan was a "priority area" of mutual cooperation.
"In general, China's cooperation with Kazakhstan is carried out through Xinjiang," Ma added.
Ma's visit to Astana, which was not widely reported, took place 10 days after the Kazakh ambassador to China, Shakhrat Nuryshev, made a trip to Xinjiang and met with Ma.
Kazakh authorities refrain from openly criticizing the policies of China, one of their main creditors. They have responded to the demands of ethnic Kazakhs for the release of their relatives by saying that what is happening in China is an internal affair of the country, and have said the applications of separated family members are considered "through diplomatic channels."