Wednesday, April 30, 2008

China: Beyond the Dalai Lama

Media has focused on events and circumstances surrounding Tibetan monks in view of the upcoming Olympics. I came across the following post this morning. While this may not receive much attention in the news, it is no less real. Should China have to answer for treatment of Christians as well?

Christians on trial in China

A Uyghur Christian in Xinjiang, Mr. Alimujiang Yimiti, is expected to be sentenced in China this month. Alimujiang was secretly detained on 12 January and accused of subversion of the national government and endangering national security, a crime which can carry the death penalty.

Alimujiang Yimiti (Alimjan Yimit in Uyghur) was working as a project manager for a British company, Jirehouse, known in Xinjiang as Xinjiang Jiaerhao Foodstuff Company. The company was targeted in a series of closures of foreign companies belonging to Christians in Xinjiang in September 2007 and Alimujiang was accused of illegal religious activities. He was subsequently taken into detention and is reported to be currently held in Kashi detention centre. His lawyer was denied a meeting with him on 25 February on grounds of national security. Those close to him say there is no proof of wrongdoing and are gravely concerned about the high level of secrecy surrounding his case.

Alimujiang is married with two young children. His family are deeply concerned for his welfare and fear that he may receive a death sentence at the outcome of his trial this month. Described as a quiet and very professional young man, his arrest has come as a complete shock to his friends and family. Those close to him believe that Alimujiang, who comes from a Muslim background, has been targeted for his Christian faith. Xinjiang has been the site of a serious crackdown on Christians in the last year and even the limited religious freedoms protected in China are further restricted in Xinjiang.

Concern has been expressed that Alimujiang could be wrongly targeted as a separatist or terrorist. However Alimujiang has repeatedly stated during interrogation that as a Christian he loves and supports the Chinese Government, something which many Uyghurs are unable to do due to resentment of the Han Chinese in Xinjiang.

Another Uyghur Christian, Wusiman Yiming (35), is due in court this Wednesday, 16 April. He is a former employee of Xinjiang Pacific Agricultural Resources Development Company Ltd. The company was run by an outspoken Christian American businessman who was expelled from China and had his business shut down. The Detention Notice states that Wusiman was put under criminal detention on 19 November 2007 on suspicion of disclosing state secrets. He was sentenced to two years of re-education through labour on 27 November 2007. The Decision Statement on Re-education through Labour states: “During his work at Luofu County Branch of Xinjiang Pacific Agricultural Resources Development Company, Ltd. From March 1998 to April 2004, he assisted foreigners in illegal activities”. He has appealed and the hearing is on Wednesday. We would especially ask for your prayers for him in the run up to the hearing. A number of people around the world are praying and fasting for him before and during the trial and sources have asked us to suggest that joining this effort would be much appreciated. You could also mention Wusiman in any letters that you write regarding Alimujiang.

You can help by sending an urgent letter of concern to the Chinese Embassy:

Ambassador Zhou Wenzhong

Chinese Embassy in the United States

2300 Connecticut Avenue, N.W.

Washington D.C. 20008

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