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Uyghur Christian sentenced to fifteen years in prison

Thursday, 10 December 2009, 16:33 (IST)
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A Chinese Christian, Alimujiang Yimiti, has been sentenced to fifteen years in prison despite his previous detention having been ruled “arbitrary” by the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention.

According to China Aid Association (CAA) this is the harshest sentence given to a Christian in the last ten years.

The Uyghur Christian was convicted of “instigating separatism and revealing state secrets”. The charges have been disputed since he was arbitrarily detained in January last year. Those close to the case have maintained that the reason for his imprisonment is his Christian faith and witness among the Uyghur people.

The verdict was read to Alimujiang in prison on October 27, following a secret trial on in July, according to CAA. Reports had suggested the trial did not follow due process under Chinese or international law. Mr Li Dunyong, a lawyer acting on behalf of Mr Alimujiang has already filed an appeal for the case.

Those close to Alimujiang have consistently claimed that there was never any proof of wrongdoing and that he would not have had access to state secrets as an agricultural worker.

News of Alimujiang’s verdict comes as an apparent crack-down on house churches in China saw five house church leaders from Fushan church in Shanxi province sentenced to between three and seven years in prison, and five more detained for re-education through labour last month after protesting the destruction of their church building. Reports suggest house churches in Beijing and Shanghai are also under pressure.

Christian Solidarity Worldwide’s Advocacy Director, Tina Lambert said: “CSW calls on the Chinese government to release Alimujiang Yimiti immediately. The charges Alimujiang faces are ill-defined under Chinese law.

"The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention ruled last year that Alimujiang detention was ‘arbitrary,’ and concluded that Mr. Yimiti was being detained ‘solely for his religious faith and his religious activities’.

"The injustice done to Alimujiang is painfully clear and we call on the international community to take up his cause.”



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