Authorities in Kazakhstan have set a date for the trial of rights activist Serikzhan Bilash, whose group Atajurt works to release ethnic Kazakhs from mass “re-education” camps in China’s Xinjiang.
Bilash, who has been under house arrest since his initial detention five months ago, will stand trial at a court in the Kazakh city of Nursultan at 11:30 a.m. local time on Monday, RFA has learned.
Bilash had been a vocal campaigner for the release of fellow ethnic Kazakhs from Chinese camps, where the ruling Chinese Communist Party has been holding more than one million ethnic minority Uyghurs, Kazakhs, and other Muslims in mass incarceration centers since April 2017.
He was detained amid accusations from Chinese officials that he had “fabricated” the cases he was documenting, in an arrest that was widely seen as being at Beijing’s behest.
Bilash’s lawyer Aiman Umarova received notification from the court that the trial would be held in Nursultan, she told journalists on Friday.
“I believe he is innocent, because he said that he would conduct an information jihad against discrimination against Kazakhs, Kyrgyzs, and Uyghurs in China’s “re-education” camps,” Umarova said.
“The evidence submitted by the prosecution includes witnesses … who are saying that these remarks have caused disharmony,” she said, adding that the witnesses were unknown to Bilash.