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Press Release: Call to Release Kazakh Activist Serikzhan Bilash

The Campaign for Uyghurs and One Voice One Step Initiative is deeply concerned by the reports that prominent Kazakh activist Serikzhan Bilash is arrested yesterday, Sunday 10 March 2019.

Mr. Bilash has been working tireless to defend human rights in East Turkistan. Since April 2017, over 1 million Uyghurs, Kazakh and other ethnic Turkic peoples have been rounded up by Chinese authorities and arbitrarily detained in concentration camps, where they are subjected to serious human rights violations including torture and forced indoctrination.

Mr. Bilash is head of the advocacy group Atajurt in Almaty. According to his wife Leila Adilzhan and lawyer, Mr. Bilash was arrested and taken to Astana by the Kazakhstan policy presumably due to heavy Chinese pressure on the Kazakh government over the camp issue in East Turkistan. The Campaign for Uyghurs is very concerned for Mr. Blash’s safety and calls for his immediate release.

Mr.Bilash’s activist group, Atajurt, has been supporting the relatives of those who had been detained. They provide financial support, wrote letter to embassies, the United Nations and taped testimonies by relatives looking for their missing family in East Turkistan. Atajurt’s reporting and advocacy work has shined a light on the persecution of Kazakhs, Uyghurs and other groups in East Turkistan.

We understand that the Chinese government has been a major trading partner for Kazakhstan and Kazakhstan seeks to be in peace with China, however, detaining a human rights activist due to his activism role and being the voice for those who are detained in concentration camps, and his support for Kazakh, Uyghurs and other Muslims in the camps is against the International law as well as Kazakhstan values.

In this way, China continues to attempt to silence voices with the courage to reveal the truth about what is happening in the country. We must not forget about those who dare to seek the truth and we urge the others to loudly call on the Chinese government to release Kazakh activist Serikzhan Bilash and respect freedom of speech.

Kazakhs and Uyghurs are ethnically, religiously, and historically brothers. The Campaign for Uyghurs, One Voice One Step Initiative stands in solidarity with the detained Kazakh activist Serikzhan Bilash, and calls for his immediate release.

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