Recently, the YouTube channel of the Kazakh human rights organization Atajurt (full name of the channel is ATAJURT KAZAKH HUMAN RIGHTS Serikzhan Bilash) with videos exposing the situation in the Xinjiang concentration camps was blocked by the YouTube site. The video was blocked from the YouTube channel. In mid-June, the group’s channel was even blocked at one point. In an interview with our correspondent Sun Cheng, the head of the organization, Serikzhan Bilash, talked about the pressure Atajulte is currently facing from the Kazakh authorities.
Reporter: Hello, please tell us about the blocking of videos on Attajurt’s oil tube channel.
Selkjian: First, on April 21, it was said that a video was reported, someone else sued us, and then we were banned from uploading new videos until July. Then we want to appeal, appeal they (oil pipe) do not accept, and finally the button to our appeal are removed, we can not appeal. Then they said that there were two videos that violated the rules of the tube, and then we wanted to appeal again, and they took away the appeal button, so we couldn’t appeal.
Reporter: So when was Atajulte’s channel banned from the Oil Pipe website?
Selkjian: They said it was because of these three videos that we were banned from uploading new videos to the oil pipe, and that time was until August. We have been unable to do anything, the oil pipe banned us until August, to ban us from uploading videos, we opened a separate channel, just waiting for August. On June 15, they suddenly closed our channel and sent us a letter saying that your channel had been deleted.
Reporter: Can you tell us about the content of these videos?
Selkjian: The first video is about a Kazakh woman from Xinjiang whose four family members were imprisoned in a concentration camp, her two brothers and two sisters, that is, a family of four people were imprisoned in a concentration camp. We don’t have any terror or threats in this (video). They just ignored us and took the appeal button off. The second time they sent a warning letter, we didn’t even have a chance to appeal. We said, well let’s delete it, and we couldn’t delete the video. The second time something like this came up, also another Kazakh family member was put inside a concentration camp. Then there was a third video. The oil pipe said that these three videos of yours are against the rules related to oil pipes.
Reporter: At present, Atajulte’s Oil Pipe account has been restored. What is the process of restoration?
Sailor Kin: Then many international celebrities, including politicians, scholars, and researchers who are concerned about the situation in Xinjiang, discussed the issue on social media, and many journalists also exposed it, and the oil pipe suddenly restored it. (Note: According to an addendum sent to the journalist by Serkjian in text form, the oil pipeline asked “Atajulte” to cover up the part of the video that shows the ID with a mosaic). We are working on these 12 videos. The Kazakh government has been asking us to “return” the pipeline channel to the government-registered pro-government, pro-Beijing puppet Attajurt organization because our man who edits the videos is very busy right now and he is in Kazakhstan.
Reporter: How did Atajulte respond to this demand?
Selkjan: We said that the channel was ours back in 2013, and we started to use it for human rights causes in 2017 after the relevant human rights activities started. They are officially registered, is everything we have supposed to belong to them? What proof do they have that the channel is theirs? And the two officially registered organizations are puppet, pro-Beijing, pro-government organizations, although they both use the title “Atajulte”, which means “Father’s Home”.
Reporter: What do these two pro-government organizations think about the Xinjiang concentration camps?
Selkjian: Once they were officially registered, they immediately announced that “there are no concentration camps in Xinjiang”. The host of the first puppet Atajulte Youth Organization told the Kazakh editor of Radio Free Europe that “more than 90% of the Kazakhs have been released from the camps”.
Reporter: When were these two official “Atadzulte” organizations registered?
Selkjan: The first one was registered in December 2018, and the other one in September 2019. Then in September 2019, the second one said, “There are no concentration camps in Xinjiang, and all Kazakhs arrested by the Chinese government are criminals.
Reporter: Under these circumstances, what kind of difficulties are the Atajulte workers in Kazakhstan currently encountering?
Syrkjian: So, we don’t dare to involve the members of our volunteer organization in Kazakhstan in the editing of our channel, because the Kazakh National Security Service is following them 24 hours a day, and even in June last year, they sued us for “illegal occupation”, saying that we were occupying their platform. I said, “What proof do they have?” There was no such thing in Xinjiang in 2013, and there were no concentration camps. This channel existed back in 2013, and since they registered it, that means everything is theirs? We are such an organization: everyone has to come up with their own stuff, that is, we have to contribute to solve the difficulties our people (are experiencing).
On the same day, the reporter also tried to contact the oil pipe website customer service to ask for details about the matter. But as of press time, the oil pipe website has not yet responded.