A human rights group, known as Atajurt Kazakh Human Rights, which attracted millions of views on YouTube with testimonies from people who say their families have disappeared in China’s Xinjiang region following vicious persecution by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), has had to move its content to another platform after YouTube removed much of it.
According to Reuters the human rights YouTube channel, run by its Kazakhstan-based founder Serikzhan Bilash, has been blocked by the YouTube video platform for allegedly breaching its security policies.
The Kazakh group is recognized by international organizations such as Human Rights Watch for drawing attention to human rights violations in the Xinjiang area of China. Kazakh authorities have criticized the group since its founding in 2017.
According to Reuters, 12 of the channel’s videos were removed by YouTube amid an apparent campaign by groups denying that China is committing genocide to massively report on Atajurt Kazakh Human Rights videos. The channel was blocked completely this month and only reinstated after queries carried out by Reuters.
Following pressure, YouTube finally removed the block on the channel which is currently up and running. However, it has not reinstated all the videos it removed, citing policies that prohibit personal information in posted videos because it could result in harassment.
This is extremely ludicrous considering that the testimonies just publish their names and identities voluntarily, in order to generate full credibility about their allegations.
Human Rights Watch, warned in 2019 that Serikzhan Bilash, presented as a “well-known rights activist in Kazakhstan,” was released from prison after after a hearing in which he was informed that the terms of his release are tied to eliminating all activism against the Chinese regime.
“It was either that or seven years in jail. I had no choice,” Bilash, who for years has been dedicated to exposing human rights violations against Turkish Muslim minorities, including Kazakhs in China’s Xinjiang region, said at the time.
Bilash’s own lawyer, Aiman Umarova, refused to sign the plea agreement, insisting on her client’s innocence. “I refuse to put my name on any agreement that was signed under pressure,” she said.
Considerable time passed, Bilash from exile continued his fight to expose the atrocities committed by the Chinese regime on Muslim minorities.
Since the news of YouTube’s censorship, rumors began to spread that the Chinese communist regime had pressured the video platform to impose censorship on Bilash’s material, it is really hard to accept that there is any other reason.
YouTube did not answer questions about whether the Chinese regime contacted it about the videos, nor whether it agrees with Secretary of State Antony Blinken and his predecessor Mike Pompeo that China is committing genocide against the Uighur minority.
As Bilash told Reuters, following the YouTube censorship, the Atajurt group is moving its videos to a new platform called Odysee. While it will continue to post its videos on YouTube, Odysee “is safer” for its content.