The activist’s trial was “reactivated” after he was instrumental in the publication of testimonies of ethnic Kazakhs persecuted in Xinjiang in Bitter Winter.
by Laila Adilzhan
Serikzhan Bilash’s trial, scheduled for December 14, has been postponed to December 20. His lawyer Shynkuat Baizhan shared this information on his Facebook page. The reason for the postponement was not specified. According to the lawyer, Serikzhan Bilash has already served his probationary period, and there is no reason to accuse him of evading a conditional sentence, summoning him to court or putting him on the wanted list. It is possible that Chinese pressures were behind the search for Serikzhan Bilash, who is currently abroad.
There have already been repeated arrests and fines of activists who have been protesting in front of the Chinese consulate in Almaty for more than a year. Not only Serikzhan Bilash, but all his supporters, who are speaking out on human rights in China, are under surveillance. All those who supported Serikzhan Bilash were persecuted.
An active member of the independent Atajurt organization, speaker, writer, member of the Writers’ Union of Kazakhstan, Nurkhan Sultanbay, was not allowed to enter the conference hall, which he had rented on the occasion of his 60th birthday for an event about creativity. Nurkhan Sultanbay, who arrived on the date of his birthday at the pre-rented place, was told that repair work had begun and was not allowed in. The organizer of the birthday party and all the invited guests did not know what to do, they were standing outside.
The guests were very angry at the head of the Kazakhstan Writers’ Union. He had accused human rights activists of being responsible for the arrests of ethnic Kazakhs in China. “You have violated the friendship between China and Kazakhs,” he said.
Mysterious cars are watching the homes of all members and supporters of the independent Atajurt and Serikzhan Bilash. The houses of some Bilash supporters were searched by police under false pretenses. Bilash himself has received a message from Duken Masimkhanuli, Chairman of the Overseas Chinese Organization in Kazakhstan, which is connected with the Chinese United Front, with death threats against him and his children, should they return to Kazakhstan.
What mightily disturbed the CCP was that the independent Atajurt volunteers continued their activities, and some of them travelled 4,000 km to East Kazakhstan and visited towns and villages for collecting facts about transformation through education camps in Xinjiang, which were published as a series in Bitter Winter. There are many ethnic Kazakhs who managed to escape from China to the eastern part of Kazakhstan.
Most of those who had their testimonies published in Bitter Winter were harassed by Chinese agents who work for the United Front in Kazakhstan. The Chinese agents showed them pictures they took of them with human rights activists and politicians, confirming that they keep them under surveillance, and threatening them if they will continue to speak up about the camps and the situation in Xinjiang.