Detained Since: July 14, 2009.
Charges: Splittism, leaking state secrets, and organizing an illegal demonstration.
Sentence: 19 years and 8 months in prison.
Biography: Gulmira Imin is a Uighur Muslim and served as a government employee in Urumqi, the capital of the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region in northwest China. In spring 2009, Ms. Imin became the moderator of Salkin, a Uighur-language culture and news website to which she had previously contributed poetry and short stories and had been critical of government policies in her online writing.
On July 5, 2009, Ms. Imin participated in a demonstration protesting the deaths of Uighur migrant workers in Guangdong Province. Initially peaceful, the protests turned violent, with about 200 people killed during the riots and confrontations with police. On July 14, 2009, Ms. Imin was arrested in Aksu after authorities alleged she had organized the protests, posted an announcement for them on Salkin, and leaked state secrets by phone to her husband in Norway. Her family was not notified of her arrest, and was unaware of her location until the October 2009 airing of a China Central Television documentary that depicted Imin in prison garb.
On April 1, 2010, the Urumqi Intermediate People’s Court sentenced Ms. Imin to life in prison under Articles 103, 111, and 296 of China’s Criminal Law on charges of “splittism, leaking state secrets, and organizing an illegal demonstration.” She alleges she was tortured and forced to sign documents while in detention. She reportedly was not allowed to meet with her lawyer until the trial. Her appeal subsequently was rejected. Ms. Imin is currently detained in the Xinjiang Women’s Prison located in Urumqi, where she is allowed one family visit every three months.
Advocate: Rep. Jennifer Wexton (D-VA)
Advocacy Partner: U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom
Tenzin Dorjee, chair of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) called on China to immediately release Gulmira Imin (February 15, 2019, U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom).
USCIRF Commissioner Tenzin Dorjee reiterated his call for the immediate release of prisoner of conscience Gulmira Imin (August 8, 2019, U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom).
Gulmira Imin's sentence was reportedly reduced from a life sentence to 19 years and 8 months (June 22, 2021, RFA Asia)
USCIRF Commissioners Anurima Bhargava and Tony Perkins published an op-ed in Newsweek on March 8, 2022, entitled "Say Her Name: Women Persecuted for Their Religion or Belief | Opinion" which highlighted cases of women in USCIRF's Freedom of Religion or Belief Victims List database, including Gulmira Imin (March 8, 2022, Newsweek).