In this March 29, 2018, photo, Serikzhan Bilash, a prominent activist campaigning against Chinese internment camps, gestures as he speaks to The Associated Press at a restaurant in Almaty, Kazakhstan. Bilash was arrested by Kazakh police at an Almaty hotel on Sunday, March 10, 2019 and taken to Astana, Kazakhstan’s capital. The detention of hundreds of thousands and possibly over a million Uighurs, Kazakhs and other ethnic minorities in China’s far west has been a touchy issue in neighboring Kazakhstan. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
MOSCOW – A prominent activist from Kazakhstan who is campaigning for the release of ethnic Kazakhs in China says he was forced to sign blank documents under house arrest.
Serikzhan Bilash, head of the advocacy group Atajurt, was accused of "inciting ethnic hatred" and placed under house arrest in the Kazakh capital of Astana earlier this week.
The charges against him have not been officially announced.
Bilash said in an audio message relayed by his lawyer that unknown officials visited his place on Wednesday and pressured him to sign blank documents.
The detention of possibly over a million Uighurs, Kazakhs and other ethnic minorities in Chinese internment camps has raised acute concerns in Kazakhstan which heavily relies on trade with neighboring China. Bilash's group has been actively supporting relatives of those detained.