Alimjan Yimit with his wife and son in happier times
Christian Post via Compass Direct News, reports that Alimjan Yimit, an ethnic Uyghur pastor of a house church who was sentenced last year to 15 years prison for “leaking state secrets”, has been allowed to see his family for the first time in over two years:
Authorities in Xinjiang Province recently moved Uyghur Christian Alimjan Yimit from a prison in Kashgar to a prison in the provincial capital Urumqi and allowed the first visit from family members since his arrest in January 2008, sources told Compass.
Alimjan (Alimujiang Yimiti in Chinese) was noticeably thinner but in good spirits, the family told friends after their brief visit to him in Xinjiang No. 3 prison on April 20, one source told Compass. They were allowed only 15 minutes to speak with Alimjan via telephone through a glass barrier, the source said.
But Alimjan’s lawyers, Li Baiguang and Liu Peifu, were prohibited from meeting with him, despite gaining permission from the Xinjiang Bureau of Prison Management, the China Aid Association (CAA) reported on Saturday.
Officials have now granted Alimjan’s wife Gulnur (Chinese spelling Gulinuer) and other close family members permission to visit him once a month.
While the Chinese government has been accused of de-Muslimising the Xinjiang region, the following paragraph offers a glimpse of the government’s concern over aggressive proselytisation by Christian missionaries among the Uyghur people:
Officials initially interrogated Alimjan during his employment by two foreign-owned companies and forbade him to discuss the questioning with anyone. In September 2007 they closed the business he then worked for and accused him of using it as a cover for “preaching Christianity” among the Uyghurs.
Kashgar police then detained Alimjan on Jan. 11, 2008, on charges of endangering state security before formally re-arresting him on Feb. 20, 2008, for allegedly “inciting secession” and “leaking state secrets.”
He was then held for more than a year at the Kashgar Municipal Detention Center without facing trial.
Alimjan’s lawyers, Li Baiguang and Liu Peifu, now plan to take his case all the way to the Beijing Supreme Court