Alimujiang Yimiti (Released)
Alimujiang Yimiti, also known as Alim, was born on June 10, 1973, in Hami, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. In a predominantly Muslim area, Alim converted to Christianity in 1995.
He became a Christian house church leader to fellow Uyghurs in Xinjiang, also known as East Turkistan. As the Chinese government continued to scrutinize ethnic minorities in the region, Alim was criminally detained on January 12, 2008, for “inciting separatism” and “unlawfully providing state secrets to overseas organizations.” They formally arrested him on February 20.
Rumors of “infiltration”
His detainment followed an accusation of “engaging in illegal religious infiltration” activities in Kashgar. Alim allegedly spread Christianity among Uyghurs and distributed “religious propaganda” materials, according to the Kashgar Municipal Commission of Ethics and Religious Affairs on September 13, 2007.
First Secret trial: not enough evidence
Alimujiang’s first lawyer was turned away, and it wasn’t until April 18, 2008, that a lawyer was able to meet with him. He was tried in secret on May 27, 2008; his family, including his wife and two sons, was barred from attending. At the trial, it was concluded that there was insufficient evidence to convict Alimujiang of divulging state secrets, causing the case to be turned back over to the Kashgar police for further investigation.
Alimujiang was again charged with “unlawfully providing state secrets to overseas organizations” on July 11, 2009, after more than a year in detention with no formal verdict. The separatism charge was dropped without explanation.
Second trial: 15-year sentence
On July 28, 2009, the Kashgar Intermediate People’s Court conducted a second secret trial, once again barring Alimujiang’s family from attending. The hearing was left without a verdict, and Alimujiang was finally convicted and sentenced to a 15-year prison term on Aug. 6, 2009.
Alimujiang’s wife and lawyer didn’t learn of the trial until October 2009, and it wasn’t until December 2009 that they learned about Alimujiang’s sentence.
On Sept. 12, 2008, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention declared that Alimujiang’s detention was arbitrary and based solely on his “religious faith and religious activities.”
As the world has come to find out, the Chinese government has used Xinjiang to place Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities in concentration camps. In these “vocational” camps, prison guards beat, torment, sterilize, and sexually assault prisoners. It’s unclear if the authorities ever sent Alim to any of the concentration camps during his 15-year sentence.
ChinaAid confirmed in 2023 that the authorities released Alim. No other information is available about his condition after his long and severe sentence.