Open Doors urges American believers to join petition

By March 19, 2009

China (MNN) — In China, two believers have been unjustifiably persecuted. And Open Doors USA urges American believers to petition for their freedom.

Open Doors is advocating for the immediate release of believers Osman Imin and Alimjan Yimiti. You join them by e-mailing a plea for their release to the Chinese Embassy in Washington D.C.

"We need to send the Chinese government a message that Christians thrown in prison unjustly will not be forgotten by believers worldwide," said Lindsay Vessey, Advocacy Program Manager for Open Doors USA. "We need to support them, and you can do that by joining this e-mail campaign now."

In late 2007, Imin was imprisoned on charges of "revealing state secrets" and later sentenced to two years of forced labor. Yimiti, a house church leader in Kashgar, was imprisoned in January 2008. Both are Uyghur Christians, one of China's ethnic minorities. In the wake of the Summer Olympics in Beijing, persecution against Uyghur Christians has increased, justified in the name of national security and protection against terrorism.

"The Christian community in the Xinjiang Autonomous Region faces persecution as Christians who have left Islam and as an ethnic and political minority in the communist country of China," Vessey said.

Osman Imin's health has deteriorated dramatically since his 2007 imprisonment. Imin is forced to work 12 to 15 hours per day in a labor camp where he suffers from malnutrition.

According to local sources, Imin's first arrest occurred in 2004; he was severely tortured and beaten by police, and chained to a metal bed in winter without adequate clothing. Officials originally called for a 10 to 15 year criminal sentence, but as a result of international media attention, Imin's sentence was reduced to two years of "re-education through labor."

Alimjan Yimiti was arrested in January 2008 on an alleged "national security" issue. China Aid recently received a letter from Yimiti's wife containing updates on her husband's status. The letter says that Yimiti was recently sent to a Communist Party committee at the region's highest government level. This committee will make the final decision on his case.

The wives of Yimiti and Imin have been closely monitored since the believers' arrests. Imin's wife, Nurgul, is allowed to visit her husband twice a month for 30 minutes. Yimiti hasn't seen his wife, Guli Nuer, in the year and two months that have passed since his imprisonment. Both men have two children and are considered strong leaders in the Uygur church.

To join Open Doors USA's e-mail campaign and help set these prisoners free, click here.

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