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Prominent Chinese Rights Activist Xu Zhiyong Sentenced to Four Years in Prison

Posted: January 26th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: China | Tags: , , , , , | Comments Off on Prominent Chinese Rights Activist Xu Zhiyong Sentenced to Four Years in Prison

CHINA-NEWSA Chinese court has sentenced one of China’s most prominent rights advocates to four years in prison after he campaigned for the rights of children from rural areas to be educated in cities and for officials to disclose their assets.

The Beijing Number 1 intermediate people’s court found Xu Zhiyong guilty of “gathering a crowd to disturb public order”, the court said on its official microblog. Xu was tried on Wednesday.

Xu’s jailing will send a stark warning to activists that the Chinese Communist Party will crush any challenge to its rule, especially from those who seek to organise campaigns.

It also diminishes hopes for meaningful political change, even as China pledges to embark on economic reforms ::::
Prominent Chinese Rights Activist Xu Zhiyong Sentenced to Four Years in Prison
Xu’s lawyer Zhang Qingfang said he will meet Xu within the next two days to get his opinion on whether to lodge an appeal.

“He said (in court) that the last remaining dignity of the Chinese legal system has been destroyed,” Mr Zhang told reporters. “It’s not that we can’t bear this result, but that fundamentally, the guilty conviction is illegal, is unreasonable and unfair,” he said.

There were chaotic scenes outside the court as police shoved and harassed foreign reporters. Mr Zhang was briefly taken away in a van by police after the hearing. He said police were still tailing him after he was released.

The government has waged a 10-month drive against Xu’s New Citizens’ Movement, which advocates working within the system to press for change. Hundreds of Chinese citizens have participated in activities related to the movement, according to rights activists.

“This is a shameful but sadly predictable verdict,” Roseann Rife, East Asia research director at Amnesty International, said in a statement. “The Chinese authorities have once again opted for the rule of fear over the rule of law. The persecution of those associated with the New Citizens Movement demonstrates how fearful the Chinese leadership are of public calls for change,” she said.

China has detained at least 20 activists involved in pressing for asset disclosure by officials, although not all are from the New Citizens’ Movement.

The United States said it was “deeply disappointed” by the jailing.

“We call on Chinese authorities to release Xu and other political prisoners immediately, cease restrictions on their freedom of movement, and guarantee them the protections and freedoms to which they are entitled under China’s international human rights commitments,” state department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a statement.

“We are concerned that Mr Xu’s prosecution is retribution for his public campaign to expose corruption and for the peaceful expression of his views,” the statement added.

Xu’s verdict is also a rebuff to Western governments who have expressed concern about his case.

Through his online essays and Twitter account, Xu pushed for officials to disclose their assets and also campaigned for the rights of children from rural areas to be educated in cities, where many live with their migrant worker parents.

Xu’s trial is China’s highest-profile proceeding against a dissident since 2009, when Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo was put on trial for subversion after he helped organise the Charter 08 petition urging the overthrow of one-party rule.

During Xu’s trial, the court rejected the 68 witnesses the defence had applied to testify. It also barred diplomats from attending the trial and security forces roughed up foreign reporters outside the courthouse.

@rebekah.raeburn-gould

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GIFTS.FOR.HER GIFTS.FOR.HIM

source: cdt
source: amnesty.international
source: rfa
source: muc.edu.cn
source: reuters
source: ap
source: bbc
source: abc
source: wikipedia
image source: google/ap/rsf/cdt

update source: afp/reuters


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