Christian 'Spy' Suffering after 15 Months in Chinese Prison

A Uyghur Christian's health is deteriorating rapidly in a Chinese prison where he has been held for over a year without trial.

Alimujiang Yimiti (pronounced A-leem-jan Yi-mit) was last seen Tuesday morning at Nongsanshi Hospital in the western city of Kashgar in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous region in China, according to China Aid. His hands were bound and he was "roughly" escorted by police and a prison doctor.

As he was taken into the hospital, he repeatedly shouted to onlookers in Chinese, "I'm sick. Tell my lawyer to come quickly to see me."

His poor health condition is suspicious because just one week ago Alimujiang's Beijing-based lawyer met with him and reported that he was in excellent health and in good spirits.

Last Monday's meeting between the defendant and lawyer was only the second time anyone had been allowed to see him despite the fact that he has been detained since last January.

China Aid sources are concerned about the sudden change in Alimujiang's health condition. They suggest that abuse and torture from prison authorities is a possibility given that local authorities are becoming desperate to justify the Christian Uyghur's detention after national media attention given to the case.

Local authorities, according to sources, are embarrassed by the unlawful detention because China officially claims to uphold religious freedom for all citizens, including its ethnic minorities.

Uyghurs are a Turkic-speaking Muslim minority living in Central Asia that has a large community in the People's Republic of China.

Alimujiang had become a believer of Jesus Christ 14 years ago, his wife said.

"Belief in Jesus has made great changes in Alimujiang's life and has made him really a good citizen who loves his country and his people," his wife Guli Nuer wrote in a letter to China Aid.

Since Jan. 12, 2008, Alimujiang has been imprisoned at Kashi Municipal Detention center. He was first accused of "endangering the security of the state," then was officially arrested on Feb. 20, 2008, for "suspicion of inciting secession and organizing people in stealing, spying, buying and illegally providing state secrets or intelligence to overseas organizations."

However, local sources say the real reason for his detention is because of his Christian faith and his sharing the Gospel with Uyghur people, most of whom are Muslims.

In prison, Alimujiang is said to be highly respected and praised by people there. He insists upon his innocence and continues to practice his Christian beliefs.

Alimujiang is scheduled to appear in court next month.

Members of the international community are urged to contact Chinese government offices to express concern for Alimujiang Yimiti.

Xinjiang Governor's Online Message Box (Chinese):