The trial of a Uyghur Christian man is expected to commence Tuesday, nearly 19 months after China detained and charged him for "revealing state secrets or intelligence to overseas organizations."
Alimujian Yimiti, whose Turkic ethnic group lives primarily in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China, has been held at the Kashi Muncipal Center since Jan. 12, 2008, despite international protests claiming that he is "an innocent, law-abiding citizen."
"Alimujiang ... has been a peacemaker between Han Chinese and Uyghurs," testified religious freedom activist Bob Fu, who heads the Christian persecution watchdog group ChinaAid.
"He has even been sending his children intentionally to study Mandarin in school, even though they are Uyghurs, in order encourage them to be peacemakers," Fu added. "The Chinese government should show they are seeking stability by releasing Alimujiang Yimiti."
For several months now, members of the international community have been closely monitoring Yimiti's case.
The U.N. Working Group on Arbitrary Detention investigated Yimiti's case last year and issued an opinion in September, stating that Yimiti's detention is arbitrary and that the Chinese government should take the necessary steps to correct the situation.
According to ChinaAid, the watchdog has been informed by its sources that the reason for Yimiti's imprisonment is his Christian faith and witness among the Uyghur people, who human rights groups say are often repressed by the Chinese government under the pretext of the "war on terror." The Chinese government has often referred to Uyghur nationalists as "terrorists" and received more global support for their self-declared "war on terror" since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in the United States.
Though large diasporic communities of Uyghurs exist in the Central Asian countries of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan, smaller communities can be found in Mongolia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Russia and Taoyuan County of Hunan province in south-central Mainland China.
Uyghur neighborhoods can be found in major Chinese cities like Beijing and Shanghai.