Family visits reduced for imprisoned Christian

Tuesday, February 5, 2013
Charlie Butts (

A house church leader in China serving a harsh prison sentence has found his situation worsening as pressure is now placed on his family.

Christian crossAlimujiang 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.

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