Gulmire Imin

Beats Covered:
Local or Foreign:

Uighur journalist Gulmire Imin is serving a life sentence on charges of separatism, leaking state secrets, and organizing an illegal demonstration. Urumqi police 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, in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region. In August 2010, Imin 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. government-funded broadcaster Radio Free Asia.

Imin held a local government post in Urumqi. She contributed poetry and short stories to the cultural website Salkin and had been invited to moderate the site in late spring 2009, her husband, Behtiyar Omer, told CPJ. Omer confirmed the date of his wife’s initial detention in a statement at the Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy in 2011.

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 website told Radio Free Asia. The website 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.

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

CPJ called the Urumqi Public Security Bureau in late 2019 but no one answered the phone. In late 2020, CPJ called the bureau but the number was out of service. The Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region Prison Administration did not respond to CPJ’s email requesting information about Imin’s health and status in late 2020.