Key Fact: Website administrator and Uyghur Muslim
Detained Since: July 14, 2009
Charges: Splittism, leaking state secrets, and organizing an illegal demonstration
Sentence: Life imprisonment
Biography: Gulmira Imin is a Uyghur Muslim and former web administrator for the Uighur-language website Salkin. Ms. Imin was also a government employee in Urumqi, the capital of the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region in northwest China. Xinjiang is home to the majority of the country’s Uyghur Muslim population.
Ms. Imin was born in 1978 in Aksu in Xinjiang and graduated in 2000 from the Chinese-Uyghur translation department of Xinjiang University. In spring 2009, Ms. Imin became the moderator of Salkin, a Uyghur-language culture and news website to which she had previously contributed poetry and short stories. Many of her online writings criticized government policies.
On July 5, 2009, Ms. Imin participated in a major demonstration protesting the deaths of Uighur migrant workers in Guangdong Province. Initially peaceful, the protests turned violent, with about 200 people, including ethnic Han Chinese, killed during the uprisings 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 the 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 (Xinjiang No. 2 Prison) located in Urumqi, where she is allowed one family visit every three months.
USCIRF Advocate: Commissioner Anurima Bhargava
Press Statement: USCIRF Commissioner Tenzin Dorjee Calls for Release of Religious Prisoner of Conscience Gulmira Imin (August 8, 2019)
Press Release: As Uighur Muslims Demand Video Evidence of Loved Ones, USCIRF Chair Tenzin Dorjee Calls on China to Release Prisoner of Conscience Gulmira Imin (February 15, 2019)
Press Release: Open Letter from USCIRF Vice Chair to Gulmira Imin on the 8th Anniversary of Her Arrest (July 14, 2017)
Press Release: CHINA: USCIRF Condemns Ramadan Restrictions in Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region (July 5, 2017)
Op-Ed: Empower women by standing for religious freedom (December 9, 2016)
Press Release: CHINA: President Obama - Raise Religious Freedom on G20 Trip (August 13, 2016)
Press Release: CHINA: USCIRF Condemns the Government's Ramadan Restrictions (July 6, 2016)
Op-Ed: The National Interest -- Where Your Religion Can Still Send You to Jail (December 10, 2015)
Press Release: China: Ramadan Restrictions Violate Religious Freedom (June 18, 2015)
2019 Annual Report chapter on China