Kazakh activist freed in exchange for silence over the Uyghurs: it is "China's fault"

Serikzhan Bilash founded a group to document human rights violations against his fellow citizens.  Foreign governments estimate that over one million people are held in Xinjang detention camps.  The activist accepts a plea agreement for "the good of my family".


Nur-Sultan (AsiaNews / Agencies) - A Kazakh activist has bargained for a probation agreement in which he is banned from activism for the Uyghur population imprisoned in Xinjiang camps in China. 

Serikzhan Bilash, sentenced to seven years in prison for "inter-ethnic incitement" and subjected to house arrest since last March, said he had accepted the agreement for "my family's good".  But then he accused the government of his country of having proposed a similar plea agreement only to "appease Beijing".

Bilash launched an information campaign called "information Jihad (holy war)", with which he wanted to shed light on the atrocities committed by the Beijing authorities against the Uyghurs.  They are a Turkic ethnic minority inhabiting Xinjiang, and have been demanding greater political and economic autonomy for decades.  However, Beijing accuses them of separatism and terrorism, justifying a harsh policy of military control.

The UN has repeatedly asked to visit Xinjiang to verify abuses against the Uyghurs.  China is accused of having committed at least one million of them, subjected to brainwashing to weaken their attachment to the Islamic faith, considered a "radicalization" against their will.  Despite the testimonies of many survivors, the Communist Party has always maintained that the camps are only "vocational training centers".

In order not to upset China or put trade with the Dragon at risk, many Muslim countries remain silent in the face of the persecutions carried out in the camps.  The Kazakh activist instead founded a group called Atajurt and strongly demanded the release of Kazakh citizens locked up in the centers.

On the one hand, the Chinese authorities accuse him of having "fabricated" the cases he documented and sponsored his arrest.  On the other hand, his case has attracted the attention of several Western NGOs who demanded liberation and respect for human rights.  According to Bilash, the plea agreement is a compromise that satisfies both parties.  "If they freed me, they would have to serve the" long arm of China. "  Had they not done so, they would have faced the pressures of Western governments".