China (MNN) — For almost two years, Chinese house church leader Alimujiang
Yimiti sat in prison on false charges. Earlier this week, China
Aid learned his harsh legal sentence: 15 years imprisonment for
"providing state secrets to overseas organizations." Yimiti's
attorneys have filed an appeal and are awaiting a response.
"This is the harshest sentence against house church believers in nearly
a decade," says China Aid President Bob Fu. "The whole world should
be appalled at this injustice."
Until recently, Yimiti was held without a verdict at the Kashgar Detention
Center. He was originally detained on January 11, 2008 by Chinese officials on
false charges. The next month, these charges were altered to "suspicion of
instigating separatism and providing national secrets or intelligence to
overseas organizations or individuals." Secret trials were held in the
following months, and at the end of October, Yimiti heard his final verdict
while imprisoned at Kashgar.
China Aid reports a ruling from the UN Working Group of Arbitrary Detention
stating that the arrest and detention of Yimiti is illogical and in violation
of international law.
"The whole case is about religious faith issues," says Li Dunyong,
Yimit's defense attorney, "which are being used against Alimujiang for his
conversion from Islam to Christianity, by biased law enforcement agents,
prosecutors and the court."
Key to Yimiti's arrest were flawed and forged documents that were defended by
court officials. According to Dunyong, a key certificate used against Yimiti
was missing a vital signature, and therefore violates Chinese law.
"The 15-year sentence is far more severe than I originally
expected," Dunyong said. "It is the maximum penalty for this charge
of 'divulging state secrets.'"
Yimiti's charges were derived from interviews he granted to media outside of
China. On China Aid's Web site are various contacts and resources you can access
to speak out on Yimiti's behalf. Click
here to visit the Web site.
"We call upon the UN and people of conscience throughout the
world," Fu states, "to strongly protest to the Chinese government for
this severe case of religious persecution."
Until further action is taken to free Alimujiang
Yimiti, continue to pray for his family. They continue to face separation and
persecution with their husband and father's absence.