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China: Church Leader Sentenced

On Nov. 7, house church leader Alimujiang Yimiti, 36, was sentenced to 15 years in prison for “providing state secrets to overseas organizations,” according to China Aid Association.

Yimiti’s sentence was unexpected to both his lawyers and family. He was read his sentence at Kashgar Detention Center where he had been held for the past two years, without a verdict or sentence.

Officials have changed the charges against him several times. His case has also been in numerous courts prior to the 15-year sentence. On Jan. 11, 2008, he was first formally detained and charged by the Bureau of State Security of Kashgar, on “suspicions of harming national security.” On Feb. 20, 2009, the charges were changed to “suspicion of instigating separatism and providing national secrets or intelligence to overseas organizations or individuals.” He faced this charges in a secret trial in the Kashgar Intermediate Court on May 27, 2009.

“This is the harshest sentence against house church believers in nearly a decade, ” said Bob Fu, President ChinaAid . “The whole world should be appalled at this injustice against innocent Christian leader Alimujiang. We call upon the UN and people of conscience throughout the world to strongly protest to the Chinese government for this severe case of religious persecution.”

In September 2007, the government closed Alimujiang Yimiti’s business and accused him of using it as a cover up for “preaching Christianity among people of Uyghur ethnicity.” He was later arrested in January 2008 and accused of “subversion of the national government and endangering national security,” a crime punishable by death.

Yimiti, a former Muslim, became a Christian more than 10 years ago and has been an active Christian in the growing Uyghur church. The Voice of the Martyrs encourages you to pray for Yimiti’s family, his wife and two children, whom he has not seen in more than two years. Ask God to encourage and protect them during this difficult time. Praise God for Yimiti’s faith and courage.

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