Worthy News Asia Service with Worthy News' Stefan J. Bos
BEIJING, CHINA (Worthy News)– There was international concern Thursday, April 2, about the health of a detained Chinese Uyghur Christian leader and the disappearance of a key Christian human rights lawyer who local Christians and rights groups say has been kidnapped by Chinese security forces.
"Uyghur Christian Alimujiang Yimiti, who has been arbitrarily detained at [the city of] Kashgar" in Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region for over a year "was seen Tuesday morning around 10 a.m. (local time) at Nongsanshi Hospital in Kashgar," said advocacy group China Aid Association (CAA).
"His hands were bound and he was observed being roughly escorted by police and a prison doctor while repeatedly crying out to onlookers in Chinese, 'I'm sick. Tell my lawyer to come quickly to see me'," CAA told Worthy News. His exact health problems were not immediately clear.
Alimjiang’s defense attorney, Li Dunyong, has asked the main prosecutor involved in the case for a report of the incident, the group said. The prosecution office reportedly said they would investigate the incident and give a report Thursday, April 2. No report was immediately available.
Alimujiang Yimiti, whose name is also spelled as Alimjan Yimit, is an ex-Muslim and currently a house church leader, who was detained January 12, last year, by security forces for preaching Christianity, his family and CAA said. He was allegedly physically abused by police, who also searched his house regularly and seized his personal computer, before detaining him.
Officials already forbid Alimujiang to continue business activities, for allegedly using his work "as a cover to preach Christianity among people of Uyghur ethnicity," Worthy News learned. His attorney reportedly confirmed that the local Communist Political Legal Commission of Kashgar is due to decide the Christian's fate, amid pressure from the United Nations.
The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention said in published remarks that the "The deprivation of liberty of Mr. Alimujiang Yimiti (Alimjan Yimit in Uyghur) is arbitrary, being in contravention of articles 7, 9, 10, 11 (1), 12 … of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights … “ and urged the "Government of the People’s Republic of China to take the necessary steps to remedy the situation…"
Attorney Li Dunyong, who visited Alimujiang at the prison last week, said his client was selected as the head of his prison cell but that he remains "worried about his wife and children and their Christian faith." Alimujiang’s wife, Guli Nuer, has said in statements that she and their two young children are "proud of Alimujiang and remain more firm in their faith than ever."
News about his health problems came as Christians continued searching for Christian human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng's who has been for missing for nearly 60 days. "When one brave reporter asked the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson about Gao, the official paled and was visibly shaken, according to a Western journalist who was an eyewitness," CAA told BosNewsLife.
Gao Zhisheng was last seen being hauled away from his home in Shaanxi province by more than a dozen police officers on February 4, CAA said. Christians have suggested "Gao is being severely tortured" for his involvement in revealing reported abuses of the Chinese government against house church Christians and others persecuted in China.
Gao Zhisheng's wife and children, who CAA said "have also been abused and tormented by Chinese authorities," escaped to the United States three weeks ago. "They are grateful for the more than 36,000 who are speaking out by signing the petition [demanding his freedom] and sending e-mails, but more help is needed."
CAA said it and rights group the Voice of the Martyrs had launched a special Web site ( www.FreeGao.com ) with a petition aimed at obtaining "100,000 signatures" and to "continue to bombard Chinese government, businesses and media with e-mails calling for Gao's release."
Chinese officials have denied human rights abuses, saying Christians are free to worship within the state controlled churches. However many of China's possible 130 million Christians prefer to worship outside government interference, within house churches. Rights groups have suggested that China's Communist Party considers the spread of Christianity as a threat to its atheistic oriented ideology.