China frees Uyghur Christian pastor after 15 years in jail – UCA News

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Arrest and jailing of Alimujiang Yimiti highlights suffering of persecuted Uyghur Christians in China.

Christians pray inside a church in China in this file image

Christians pray inside a church in China in this file image. (Photo: Aid to the Church in Need)

By UCA News reporter

Published: March 20, 2023 08:17 AM GMT

Chinese authorities have released a Uyghur Christian pastor who spent 15 years in prison for “inciting separatism” and “leaking state secrets to overseas organizations,” charges termed as “baseless” by rights groups, says a report.  

Alimujiang Yimiti, 49, a Protestant house church pastor was reunited with his family after being released from prison in Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang region, China Aid reported on March 15.

Yimiti was a Muslim before he converted to Christianity in 1995. He became a pastor for Uyghur Christians who belonged to a Protestant house church in the city of Kashgar in Xinjiang. He also ran a business, Xinjiang Jiaerhao Foodstuff Company.

In 2007, Chinese security agencies started scrutinizing Uyghurs, a Muslim-majority ethnic Turkic group who make up the majority of the Xinjiang population amid a rise in violence in the region.

At that time, Christian Uyghurs who account for about two percent of the region’s estimated 26 million people, also came under pressure, reported papal charity Aid to the Church in Need.

Yimiti was first accused of using his business as a front to spread Christian ideology into Kashgar.

He was arrested on Jan. 12, 2008, for “inciting separatism” and “unlawfully providing state secrets to overseas organizations” due to a conversation he had with an American Christian friend, China Aid reported.

He faced secret trial twice before his final sentence in August 2009. His family members were reportedly not allowed to attend the trials. He was sentenced to 15 years imprisonment.

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China frees Uyghur Christian pastor after 15 years in jail – UCA News

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