China Aid Association
Alimujiang Yimiti, the Christian Uyghur in Xinjiang accused of endangering national security, will now be tried on 27 May 2008, according to latest reports. Mr Yimiti’s case was transferred to Kashi District Intermediate People’s Court for formal prosecution and formal notice of the court date has now been issued.
A rumour is circulating, reportedly originating from government officials of Kashi Region, that the court has already internally decided that Mr Yimiti will be sentenced to six years imprisonment. The case has been the subject of significant international attention since details were released last month. The family have been deeply concerned regarding the fate of Mr Yimiti as he is facing serious charges of endangering national security, namely instigating separatism and stealing, penetrating, purchasing and illegally providing state secrets or intelligence for overseas organisations and individuals. The Criminal Law of the People’s Republic of China specifies the death penalty can be applied for the second crime.
Those associated with Mr Yimiti are convinced that the charges are ill-founded and that the court would acquit him in a fair trial. Mr Yimiti’s wife, Gulinuer, has highlighted that he is being persecuted for his faith. Supporting evidence includes that when Mr Yimiti and ten other Uyghur believers were taken in for interrogation the questioning was all about their religious activities. Mr Yimiti was originally accused of engaging in illegal religious activities when authorities targeted the British company he was working for in a series of closures of foreign companies belonging to Christians in September 2007. He was subsequently taken into detention on 12 January 2008.
The preparations around the case have been complicated by language difficulties. Mr Yimiti had presented a written request asking that the case be heard in Chinese and his lawyer, Mr. Liang Xiaojun, who is based in Beijing, has also urged that the proceedings be conducted in Chinese. However the prosecutor in charge of the case is Uyghur and the documentation relating to the case is in the Uyghur language. It has been decided that the court proceedings will take place in Uyghur and be interpreted into Chinese.
Commentators remark that Mr Yimiti is being targeted both for his minority faith and his ethnicity. While there is a campaign targeting Christians in Xinjiang which has seen repeated arrests, there is a disparity in the treatment of Han Chinese Christians in Xinjiang and Uyghur Christians in Xinjiang. For example. when 46 Han Chinese Christians were arrested in Xinjiang in April, 44 were released with a 50 Yuan fine and 2 were detained for 15 days. However Alimujiang and Wusimanyiming, a fellow Uyghur Christian, have both been treated much more severely, as national security cases.
Christian Solidarity Worldwide’s National Director, Stuart Windsor, said: “As the eyes of the world focus on China in the run up to the Olympics it is gravely disturbing to see such a serious case arising out of the targeting of a British firm. The contrast between the treatment of Han Chinese Christians and Uyghur Christians practicing the same faith is a cause of real concern, alongside the religious persecution involved in this case. We urge that Alimujiang Yimiti be given a fair trial in which the evidence is fairly and properly examined before his guilt, and even sentence, is determined.”
For more information, documentation and photos, or to speak to the British employers, please contact the Advocacy Team at Christian Solidarity Worldwide on 07770 755660 / 020 8329 0043, e-mail <[email protected] or visit <www.csw.org.uk.
CSW is a human rights organisation which specialises in religious freedom, works on behalf of those persecuted for their Christian beliefs and promotes religious liberty for all.
Notes to editors:
1.For further information see CSW’s previous press release: <http://dynamic.csw.org.uk/article.asp?t=press&id=719
2.An interview, in Mandarin, with first hand testimony of those involved can be accessed at Radio Free Asia’s website at <http://www.rfa.org/mandarin/yataibaodao/ali-05062008173609.html .
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