Uyghur Christian Alimujiang Persecuted for Religious Conversion

December 23, 2009

XINJIANG--ChinaAid received breaking details on the case of Alimujiang Yimiti, a Uyghur Christian who has been illegally detained and held in prison for almost two years. On December 7, 2009, in Kashgar, Xinjiang, Lawyer Li Dunyong of the Beijing Gongxin Law Firm received notice that Mr. Alimujiang Yimiti had been sentenced by the Kashgar District Intermediate Court to a fixed-term imprisonment of 15-years, for the charge of “unlawfully providing state secrets to overseas organizations.” Alimujiang’s family members were barred from seeing the verdict paper,. However, ChinaAid was able to access the document through a reliable inside Chinese government source, one who sympathizes with the unjust treatment of Mr. Alimujiang.

ChinaAid has since compiled a detailed summary of Mr. Alimujiang’s case. Scroll down to read the full text below.

Legal experts have further discussed his case at length in a “Seminar on Alimujiang’s Case.” Click here to read more about the findings of the seminar.

“Religious Persecution Case of Alimujiang Yimiti,
Uyghur Christian Church Leader, Xinjiang, China
China Aid Association, December 23 2009

1.  Introduction

On December 7, 2009, in Kashgar, Xinjiang, Lawyer Li Dunyong of the Beijing Gongxin Law Firm received notice that Mr. Alimjan Yimit [Ch. Alimujiang Yimiti], an ethnic Uyghur Christian unlawfully detained by the Chinese Government, as defined in an opinion by the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, has been sentenced by the Kashgar District Intermediate Court to a fixed-term imprisonment of 15 years for the charge of “unlawfully providing state secrets to overseas organizations.” The judgment was dated August 6, 2009.

By providing an overall review and analysis of this case while looking at the actual evidence,  this paper shows it to be a typical case of the Chinese Government infringing upon the religious freedom of one of its citizens and that the charge of “leaking state secrets” is a fabrication by the Xinjiang Government merely to crack down on Christians.

2.  Developments of the Case

(Except where it is directly noted, all references in this paper are sourced from the reports of China Aid Association, Midland, TX)

1) Personal Details:
         Name:   Alimjan Yimit (Official Chinese transcription: Alimujiang Yimiti)
         China National ID No.:  6501-0419-7306-1047-12
         Date and Place of Birth:  June 10, 1973, Hami, Xinjiang
         Academic Level:  Community college (zhong-zhuan) degree
         Address:  Resident of Tianshan District, Urumqi, Xinjiang; living in Kashgar prior to his arrest
         Family:  wife, Gülnur [Gulinu’er]; two sons, ages 9 and 3, currently residing in Urumqi
         Other:  converted to Christianity from Islam in 1995

2)  From 2002, Alimjan worked as the Kashgar District Branch Project Manager of Xinjiang Jiaerhao Foodstuff Co. Ltd., a company owned and established by the British company Jirehouse in 2000. He was responsible for the company’s orchard in Shule County (or Hancheng). On September 13, 2007 the Kashgar Municipal Commission of Ethnic and Religious Affairs issued a declaration that under the guise of his business activities, Alimjan Yimit had since 2002 engaged in unlawful religious infiltrative activities in Kashgar District, disseminating Christianity and spreading religious propaganda among the Uyghur masses and raising up Christian believers. He was also informed that he had violated the Xinjiang United Front Department’s “Notice Regarding the Strengthening of Supervision of Christianity and Catholicism” which states in its Article 2, “It is not permitted to develop believers among Islamic and Tibetan Buddhist minorities. It is not permitted to develop believers in border regions” (cf. document of the Municipal Commission of Ethnic and Religious Affairs).

3)  On November 19, 2007, another Uyghur Christian and friend of Alimjan, Mr. Osman Imin [Ch. Wusiman Yiming] (born October 27, 1972; China National ID No.: 6532-2219-7210-2708-13. University graduate. Family: wife, Nurgül (Nu’erguli); two daughters, ages 8 and 7) of Hotan [Ch. Hetian], Xinjiang was detained by the Hotan Branch of China State Security Bureau (Anquanju ‘secret police’) suspected of leaking state secrets. The following is from the “Decision for Reeducation through Labor” issued by the Hotan Prefecture Commission for Administration of Reeducation through Labor on November 27, 2007 (see HLJZ (2007) No. 94):

“from March 1998 to April 2004 when working with the Lop [Ch. Luopu] County Branch of Xinjiang Pacific Resources Development Co., Ltd (a foreign-owned enterprise), Wusiman Yiming assisted foreigners in undertaking law-breaking activities. For the above criminal activities of Wusiman Yiming, the facts are clear and the evidence conclusive. According to the provisions in Paragraph 1, Article 10 of Provisional Implementation Measures for Reeducation through Labor issued by the State Council, it has been decided to sentence Wusiman Yiming to two-years of reeducation through labor. According to law, the 8 days of detention Wusiman Yiming was held prior will be counted towards the sentence. The execution period will be from November 27, 2007 to November 18, 2009. According to law, the sentence may be completed outside the reform camp where persons subjected to reeducation through labor comply with the conditions for implementation outside the reform camp.”

Before his arrest, Osman worked for a trading company in Yiwu city, Zhejiang province on the east coast of China. In July 2007, he was ordered to return to his home town and was placed under house arrest.

4)  On January 12, 2008, Alimjan was detained by the Kashgar Municipal Public Security Bureau for the two charges of “inciting separatism [lit. to split the state; de facto sedition]” and “unlawfully providing state secrets to overseas organizations” and was formally arrested on February 20, upon approval of the Procuratorate. He has been held in custody at Kashgar Municipal Detention Center up to the present time. Alimjan’s first attorney, Mr. Zhang Kai of Beijing Yijia Law Firm, traveled from Beijing to Kashgar on February 25, 2008 but was denied the opportunity to meet Alimjan or serve as his counsel by the local government on the grounds of national security.

 5) On April 28, 2008, another lawyer, Mr. Liang Xiaojun, met Alimjan in the detention center. Alimjan indicated that he was innocent and the charge was fabricated and ridiculous. He said at the time he was detained, it was about his religious beliefs he was interrogated at length. “Eventually they threw this huge blanket charge against me. I am really wronged” (cf. transcript of the recorded interview by Zhang Min, Radio Free Asia, May 7, 2008).

6)  On May 27, 2008, Alimjan was tried on the charge of divulging state secrets in a closed courtroom of the Kashgar District Intermediate People’s Court. None of his friends or family was allowed entry. Only Alimjan’s lawyers, Mr. Liang Xiaojun of Beijing Daoheng Law Firm and Mr. Li Dunyong of Beijing Gongxin Law Firm, appeared in court in his defense. That evening, the court announced that due to insufficient evidence the trial could not proceed and the case would be returned  to the public security organ for supplementary investigation.

7)  On September 12, 2008, in view of Alimjan’s case, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention made a ruling and issued Opinion No. 29/2008 declaring Alimjan’s detention arbitrary, being in contravention of the articles 7, 9, 10, 11 (1), 12 and 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  The UN Working Group explicitly pointed out that

 “Mr. Alimujiang Yimiti has been arrested and is being kept in detention solely for his religious faith and religious activities. Freedom of Religion is a right recognized by Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and by article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which the People’s Republic of China has signed but not ratified. His detention is also contrary to the Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief, adopted by the General Assembly by its resolution 36/55 on November 25, 1981.”

8)  At around 10:00 am, March 31, 2009, an eyewitness stated that Alimjan was sent to Kashgar Nongsanshi Hospital crying out to onlookers that he had been beaten in the detention center. The procuratorate replied Alimjan was taken to the hospital for a routine physical examination. April 21, 2009 lawyer Li Dunyong met Alimjan in the detention center and asked him about having been sent to the hospital. Alimjan indicated that he was not allowed to talk about it.

9)  On July 11, 2009 (cf. notice of prosecution No. (200() XSD 65), the Kashgar District Procuratorate charged the defendant Alimjan Yimit with the crime of providing state secrets to overseas organizations. The charge of “inciting separatism [lit. to split the state; de facto sedition] for which he was attempted to be tried in the last court trial was withdrawn. On July 28, Kashgar Intermediate People’s Court conducted the second closed-door trial, rejecting, on the basis of the case involving state secrets, the request of Alimjan’s wife and mother to be present. Lawyers Liang Xiaojun and Li Dunyong appeared in court in Alimjan’s defense. No verdict was announced in court at the  conclusion of the trial.

Liang Xiaojun commenting on the trial said, “The first problem regards the nature of the proof. It needs to be legally verifiable. Secondly, the court did not even show us the so-called proof for “leaking state secrets.”

The other attorney Li Dunyong added, “…the court even refused to tell Alimujiang what the state secret he leaked is. If he leaked the secret, then it is not a secret to him anymore, so why would they not tell him?”

The President of ChinaAid, Bob Fu commented: “This is indeed a case of religious persecution in the name of leaking so called state secrets.” (For the comments of the three, please refer to Ms. Zhang Min’s audio interview at Radio Free Asia’s Mandarin service, Aug. 9, 2009.)

10) On August 6, 2009, Kashgar Intermediate People’s Court secretly sentenced Alimjan to a fixed-term imprisonment of 15 years for the charge of “unlawfully providing state secrets (top-secret) to overseas organizations.” On October 27, Kashgar Intermediate People’s Court notified Alimjan’s wife Gülnur [Gulinu’er] and attorney, Li Dunyong, that the verdict had been announced to Alimjan in the detention center and had been mailed to Li Dunyong in Beijing. They refused, however, to disclose the actual verdict and it was later revealed, the verdict had never been mailed.

11) From 2pm to 4pm, Thursday, October 29, 2009, the United States Congress Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission held a special hearing at Capitol Hill on the legal system in China. Rights-defending lawyers Jiang Tianyong, Zhang Kai and Dai Jinbo from China appeared to testify. Zhang Kai in particular testified of Alimjan’s case being one of persecution for religious belief.

12) On December 7, 2009, Li Dunyong arriving in Kashgar from Beijing came to know that Alimjan had been sentenced by Kashgar District Intermediate Court to a fixed-term imprisonment of 15 years for the charge of “unlawfully providing state secrets to overseas organizations” (so-called state secrets being deemed top-secret). Alimjan had already submitted his petition to appeal.

Commenting after the trial in a radio interview with Zhang Min of Radio Free Asia’s Mandarin service,

Li Dunyong said, “This outcome has gone far beyond what had been initially expected.”

“Their main point is the mere ‘appraisal’ [of the State Secrecy Bureau that the ‘secret’ in question is deemed ‘top-secret’]. It is ridiculous. There are many problems in terms of both form and content. Even the appraiser has not signed it. As for fitting the definition of being “top secret”, the secret, once leaked, will cause a material loss to the state. But it has long since been “leaked”, causing no losses. At that time, the relevant authorities knew about his [Alimjan’s] ‘leaking secrets’, but still released the foreigner [who allegedly received the information], proving that the whole case is not about leaking state secrets after all.”

Liang Xiaojun said, “In my opinion, Alimjan has not let out any secret…. The next step is surely to appeal to the high court of the [Xinjiang Uyghur] Autonomous Region. We will challenge the veracity and legality of the appraisal and try to have it overturned in favor of the client.”

 (cf. transcript of the interview by Zhang Min, Radio Free Asia, December 7, 2009)

13) On December 9, 2009, US Ambassador to China, Jon M. Huntsman Jr. met in Beijing with the five rights-defending lawyers Jiang Tianyong, Li Fangping, Zhang Kai, Wang Guangze and Dai Jinbo, exchanging views on the problems of human rights in China and the world. The lawyers especially mentioned the severe sentence suffered by Xinjiang Uyghur Christian Alimjan and the bloody suppression and severe punishment of the Shanxi Linfen Church.

14) The so-called evidence for Alimjan leaking state secrets is as follows: seeing an American Christian acquaintance and exchanging information regarding the investigation of the Ethnic and Religious Affairs Bureau into the two of them “unlawfully undertaking religious infiltrative activities in Kashgar District, disseminating Christianity and spreading religious propaganda among the Uyghur masses and developing Christian believers” (cf. Part 2 above).

Note: The name of the American contact has been withdrawn from the testimony for security reasons, and is designated anonymously as Mr. xxx.

The following is excerpted and translated from the Criminal Verdict of the Xinjiang Kashgar District Intermediate Court (see (2009) KZXCZ No. 88):

“On April 16, 2007, Defendant Alimjan Yimit was interviewed in an investigation by the Kashgar Municipal Bureau of National and Religious Affairs. On the morning of April 20, 2007, he went to the residence of American Mr. xxx … in Kashgar City, providing Mr. xxx with information on reconnaissance and protection work being carried out which involves state secrets by the department of ethnic and religious affairs into the unlawful religious infiltrative activities undertaken by him, Mr. xxx, and others.”

“In the afternoon of May 16, 2007, Alimjan Yimit went again to the residence of Mr. xxx, exchanging information about their respective interviews with law enforcement officials in the investigation. He gave Mr. xxx information on the persons interviewed by law enforcement agencies in their investigation of them for engaging in religious infiltration activities and their performance in the interview. They also discussed what countermeasures to take.”

“Witnesses Zedula Askar and Kasimjan respectively testified that on April 20, 2007 around 12:25 Beijing time and again on May 16, 2007, they personally saw Alimjan Yimit who had been working in the orchard in Hannanlike, Shule County enter the house of the foreigner “Mr. Y” [Mr. xxx’s Uyghur alias}…”

This American’s “legal residency in China was cancelled by the Kashgar Municipal Public Security Bureau on May 10, 2008 on suspicion of him having engaged in Christian infiltrative activities and was ordered to leave China before May 31, 2008.”

3. Summary

From the foregoing facts and developments of the case, it may be observed that for the purpose of persecuting the Christian Uyghur Alimjan, in violation of his religious freedom, the Kashgar, Xinjiang authorities gradually changed the charge of engaging in “unlawful religious activities” into  the crime of sedition (inciting to “split the state”) and the crime of leaking state secrets before finally settling upon the sole crime of “leaking state secrets” for which he has been sentenced to the maximum prison term of 15 years. In the meantime, in order to achieve their intention of unlawful persecution, the Kashgar authorities have excessively detained Alimjan, repeatedly delayed the case,  threatened his lawyers and relatives, and never once allowed even his family to see him.

Alimjan’s plight is similar to his friend and fellow Uyghur Christian believer Osman Imin who was sentenced by the Hotan, Xinjiang authorities to a two-year reeducation through labor prison camp sentence for his Christian belief. He was released on November 18, 2009 after managing to survive the physical torture and mental anguish inflicted on him there.

The executive of the U.S.-based China Aid Association, Pastor Bob (Xiqiu) Fu has strongly condemned the Xinjiang Kashgar Government and delivered a solemn demand to the Chinese to immediately allow Alimjan to meet with his wife, children, and mother, immediately release unconditionally Alimjan and punish the relevant officials responsible for his incarceration according to law, and lawfully and prudently deal with such religious persecution cases in view of the stability in Xinjiang and China, protecting the religious belief rights and freedoms of all its ethnic peoples.

ChinaAid has supported the Alimujiang family through this difficult time, and will continue to advocate on this innocent man’s behalf until he is freed. To help support Alimujiang’s family directly, please give to the ChinaAid Family of Prisoners Fund. Click here for more information.

China Aid Contacts
Rachel Ritchie, English Media Director
Cell: (432) 553-1080 | Office: 1+ (888) 889-7757 | Other: (432) 689-6985
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