Apr 15, 2008

East Turkestan: Faith Smothered By State Security

Sample ImageA Uyghur Christian, Alimujiang Yimiti, is in jail and risks capital punishment for his faith - an alleged crime against the State…

Below is an article written by Michael Ireland and published by Journal Chretien:

Alimujiang Yimiti, a Uyghur Christian and father of two, may soon face execution in Xinjiang Province China. China Aid Association (CAA) says officials charged Alimujiang last September [2007] with “illegal religious activities” and took him into custody this January [2008], accusing him of “Subversion of the National Government and endangering national security,” a crime punishable by death.

Officials are expected to announce Alimujiang’s sentence by the end of April [2008]. Charges such as committing crimes against the State or revealing State secrets are commonly leveled against anyone considered to be an enemy of the State. Alimujiang’s family fears he will be found guilty of such crimes and subjected to capital punishment.

In a media release, CAA states: “Alimujiang is neither a separatist nor a terrorist, local sources say. He has told officials many times during interrogation that as a Christian he loves and supports the Chinese government, something many young Uyghurs struggle with as Han Chinese culture becomes increasingly dominant in Xinjiang. As a loyal Chinese citizen and business entrepreneur, Alimujiang has held to high standards, paying his taxes faithfully and avoiding a common local custom of paying bribes for business favors. He has also done his best to assimilate into Chinese culture, making the unusual decision to send his children to a Chinese language school in a predominantly Uyghur area.”

CAA says friends say Alimujiang simply wants the freedom to quietly express his faith, a right guaranteed to him in the Chinese constitution.

“Currently however, it is illegal for Alimujiang to own a Uyghur Bible. He is also unable to attend services at any Three Self Church in Xinjiang due to articles in the Xinjiang constitution that contradict China’s national constitution. Neither can he pray with foreign Christians. Alimujiang, who comes from a Muslim background, converted to Christianity over ten years ago and became active among the growing Uyghur church.”

According to CAA, on 1997 an American-owned company, the Xinjiang Taipingyang Nongye Gongsi, employed Alimujiang as an interpreter because of his firm grasp of Chinese, English and Uyghur. Appreciative of his unique linguistic and technical skills, the company later offered him a full-time job at their premises in Hetian. While no religious activities were permitted during working hours, the company allowed Alimujiang and other staff members — whether Muslim, Christian or otherwise — to pursue their own religious beliefs without interference – in contrast to government companies. State officials also searched his house regularly and seized his personal computer. Alimujiang made numerous complaints to the State Security Bureau headquarters in Urumqi, the provincial capital. He also documented bruises from rough treatment and brought this to the attention of the bureau. Eventually Alimujiang left the company in Hetian and moved back to Urumqi, where he was hired as project manager for the Xinjiang Jiaerhao Foodstuff Company.

CAA says that during his employment with the American-owned company and subsequently the UK-owned Xinjiang Jiaerhao Foodstuff Company, the local State Security Bureau -– responsible for matters of national security — regularly called Alimujiang in for interrogation. Day or night, he was expected to comply. Officials however forbade him to discuss the subject of these interrogations with anyone, as this would be equivalent to “leaking state secrets.”

In late February of this year [2008] Mr. Zhang Kai Alimujiang’s lawyer, travelled to Kashi from Beijing but was denied a meeting with him by the Bureau of State Security of Xinjiang on Feb 25 [2008] for a so-called “national secret” reason. Alimujiang is currently being held in Kashi detention center.  His arrest, totally unexpected, has shocked friends and family who describe Alimujiang as an honest businessman and loyal citizen of China. Two companies of Alimujiang’s former employment were closed due to suspicion of ’foreign religious infiltration.’