Judge rules that the proper venue for the trial of the human rights activist who exposed the horrors of China camps is Almaty rather than Nur-Sultan.
by Massimo Introvigne
The day of judgement for Serikzhan Bilash ended with no judgment. The judge in Kazakhstan’s capital Nur-Sultan agreed with Bilash’s defense counsel, Aiman Umarova, that the trial should take place in Almaty, where the alleged crimes were committed. However, he also ruled that Bilash should remain under house arrest and cannot talk to the media, rejecting Umarova’s request that detention be ended.
Bilash was, however, allowed to make a short statement during a break in the trial.
“I have been raising the issue of what can be described as genocide against Kazakhs, Uyghurs, and other mainly Turkic people in Xinjiang, he said. Hundreds of thousands of them are being forced into so-called transformation through education camps, where they face torture and humiliation. Unfortunately, China’s soft power and money is turning Kazakh authorities and intellectuals into Beijing’s agents of influence.”
Umarova told Bitter Winter that Bilash is “totally innocent” and she will continue to fight to prove it, although she knows her client is being pressured and promised a more lenient sentence if he replaces her with a less outspoken lawyer.