Gulmire Imin

Beats Covered:
Local or Foreign:

Uighur journalist Gulmire Imin is serving a 19-year, 8-month prison sentence on charges of separatism, leaking state secrets, and organizing an illegal demonstration. Police in the city of Urumqi arrested Imin, who wrote articles critical of the government on the cultural website Salkin, on July 14, 2009. 

Imin was one of several administrators of Uighur-language web forums who were arrested after the July 2009 riots in Urumqi, the capital of the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region. 

In August 2010, she was sentenced to life in prison on charges of separatism, leaking state secrets, and organizing an illegal demonstration, a witness to her trial told the U.S. Congress-funded broadcaster Radio Free Asia

Imin held a local government post in Urumqi. She contributed poetry and short stories to Salkin and had been invited to moderate the website in late spring 2009, her husband, Behtiyar Omer, told CPJ.

Authorities accused Imin of being an organizer of demonstrations on July 5, 2009, and of using the Uighur-language website to distribute information about the event, Radio Free Asia reported. Imin had been critical of the government in her online writing, readers of the site told Radio Free Asia. The site was shut down after the riots and its contents were deleted.

Imin was also accused of leaking state secrets by phone to her husband, who lives in Norway. Her husband told CPJ that he called her on July 5, 2009, but only to check whether she was safe.

The riots, which began as a protest over the death of Uighur migrant workers in Guangdong province, turned violent and resulted in the deaths of 200 people, according to the official Chinese government count. Chinese authorities blocked access to the internet in Xinjiang for months after the riots, and hundreds of protesters were arrested, according to international human rights organizations and local and international media reports.

On June 22, 2021, Radio Free Asia reported that Chinese authorities reduced Imin’s life sentence to 19 years and eight months in prison after she signed a statement of remorse that her supporters said was likely forced. 

Imin is held at the Xinjiang No. 2 Prison, a women’s prison, in Urumqi, according to the World Uyghur Congress, a Uighur human rights advocacy group. 

CPJ’s messages in October 2023 to the Xinjiang governmental service and the Xinjiang region prison administration about Imin did not receive a response.