China Court Reconsidering Labor Camp Sentence for Frail Christian
Wusiman Yiming, a Uyghur Christian detained in September for “divulged state secrets” and sentenced to two years of “re-education” may have his ruling appealed due to extreme malnutrition and injury.
4/14/08 China (BosNewsLife) A Chinese court will reconsider whether a Uygur House Church Christian is to remain in a labor camp in China’s northwestern region of Xinjiang, amid worries about his health, his supporters and family said Monday, April 14.
Wusiman Yiming’s appeal was to be held Wednesday, April 16, at Kashi People’s Court by judges from Xinjiang’s Hetian city. Only legal representatives will be allowed to attend the trial, because of what China sees as the “sensitivity” of the case, Christians said.
Wusiman Yiming, a devoted Christian, was detained in September by the State Security Bureau of Southern Xinjiang Hetian City, a main law enforcement agency, on charges of “divulging state secrets,” explained advocacy group China Aid Association (CAA) in a statement to BosNewsLife.
The Christian was reportedly sentenced in November to two years re-education by the Re-education Labor Committee of Hetian City,” his home city. Beijing attorney Zhang Kai was hired by the family to file an appeal, which was finally approved last month.
Wusiman Yiming learned of the appeal only from his wife, Nu Er Gu Li, who traveled over 480 kilometers (300 miles) to the Kashi detention center on Match 23, CAA added. “She reported that Wusiman Yiming’s situation is very bad, as he suffers from malnutrition and an obvious hand injury.”
It was not immediately clear what caused the injury, but several rights groups and former prisoners have reported torture in Chinese labor camps. Fighting for the Christian’s freedom is not easy, observers said.
Lawyer Zhang Kai was allegedly initially barred from the court for not being able to speak the Uyghur language. “But after several rounds of negotiations, the court allowed Zhang to attend the trial, accompanied by a translator,” CAA said.
However, “Zhang has continually faced harassment by government officials and is now considering whether or not to continue with the case,” the group added.
Besides Wusiman Yiming, there remains international concern about Uygur Christian Alimujiang Yimiti, who family members say may face execution in Xinjiang this year on what they see as trumped-up accusations of “endangering state security” and “separatism.”
CAA said it has appealed to the Chinese government to investigate these cases, and to order the Xinjiang Government “to stop the persecution and release these innocent Uygur Christians” as soon as possible.
“Those who know brother Wusiman Yiming and Alimujiang all recognize they are patriotic Chinese citizens,” said CAA President Bob Fu, a former house church leader. “To accuse them as suspects of separatists or treason offenders is nothing but trumpeted charges as a cover for pre-Olympic religious persecution against peaceful House Church believers among Chinese minorities,” he said.
Human rights groups say China has stepped up a crackdown on Chinese Christians, amid fears within the Communist Party they may use the Olympic Games to spread Christianity or to ask world attention for their plight.