Serikzhan Bilash

Activist Type
Human Rights

Serikzhan Bilash, an ethnic Kazakh from Xinjiang, China, is a prominent human rights activist who has endured many tribulations in his awareness campaign against Chinese “reeducation camps.” Tens of thousands of Kazakh people in the Xinjiang region have been sent to these camps, along with hundreds of thousands of other Muslims. Bilash founded the human rights group Atajurt Eriktileri (Volunteers of the Fatherland) to keep record of and advocate for the release of detainees, as well as give support to family members. Atajurt has created one of the most important and extensive accounts of the camps to date, compiling first-hand interviews and data from released individuals. Due to political backlash, Bilash was arrested by Kazakh officials and charged in March 2019. He was released after a plea bargain was settled, barring him from partaking in activism against China for seven years. The pressure did not stop there, so Bilash and his family moved to Turkey, where they now reside. Bilash’s group, Atajurt, is at risk and is trying to register in Turkey to gain recognition as a human rights group. Bilash plans to return to Kazakhstan when the pressure subsides so he, his family, and the organization can continue their work.

Artwork by
John Paul Chirdon

The symbols and color of the Kazakh flag are reassembled in relation to Bilash’s profile, echoing the border and tension between the Xinjiang region and the Kazakh people. The presence of gold reflects his light and courage in an homage to the culture’s diverse art history.


Kazakhstan Flag
December 16, 1991
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