A house church leader in China serving a harsh prison sentence
has found his situation worsening as pressure is now placed on his
Alimujiang Yimiti converted to
Christianity from Islam in 1995 and proceeded to become a strong
house church leader in the far northwestern part of the country.
Ryan Morgan of International Christian Concern describes the
events that led to Yimiti's imprisonment.
"That ministry attracted some heated attention from government
officials," Morgan says. "And back in 2008, they detained him and
accused him of spreading Christianity in China, and they changed
the sentence to sharing state secrets with foreigners."
For the first two years of imprisonment, the Christian convert
was beaten and tortured and denied family visits, but then for a
while monthly visits were allowed. Now, the family is restricted to
visits every three months and for only ten minutes.
"There's a political change going on in the province where he's
in prison right now, and when those political changes take place
sometimes there's a power struggle between different groups,"
Morgan explains. "Some of them want to look tougher. They want to
look more conservative and crack down and be more stringent on
groups that are dissidents."
And house church leaders are considered dissidents. Typically
prisoners are allowed monthly, 20-minute family visits. Authorities
stopped the torture after Yimiti's case received international
attention, and Morgan suggests that same type of attention might be
needed to reverse the latest developments.
A bipartisan group of congressional members is now communicating
with the State Department, asking for ramped up efforts for the
release of a Christian -- who is an American citizen -- from an