A 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 ::::
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.
RELATED! 500 Lawmakers Resign in Corruption Scandal
More than 500 lawmakers in a Chinese city have resigned after being implicated in a bribery scandal, while another 56 provincial legislators have been sacked as the government steps up its war on graft.
The official Xinhua news agency said the 512 lawmakers in Hengyang city in the poor, landlocked southern province of Hunan resigned after they took bribes from 56 members of the provincial assembly.
The total amount of the bribes was more than 110 million yuan ($20 million) and the money was used to swing the results of elections, Xinhua said, citing a Hunan government statement.
China does not have fully democratic one-man, one-vote elections but has experimented with a selection process at the grassroots for local legislatures, even if most candidates are Communist Party members and there is rarely more than a single candidate for each position available :: Read the full article »»»»
RELATED! Nation Celebrates Moa’s Birthday
Communist China’s president Xi Jinping has acknowledged that the country’s founding father, Mao Zedong, made “mistakes”, as Mao admirers celebrated the 120th anniversary of the late leader’s birth with noodles and fireworks.
Mao is the centrepiece of the ruling party’s pantheon and commands reverence among many Chinese, including some frustrated by the current state of the nation, but is also condemned by those who say his political and economic campaigns caused tens of millions of deaths.
China has never before allowed such an open historical discussion of his actions. Mao’s “Great Leap Forward” is estimated by Western historians to have led to as many as 45 million deaths from famine, and his Cultural Revolution plunged China into a decade of violent chaos.
China traditionally measured time in 60-year cycles. Mao, who in 1949, is remembered by many as a tyrant and leader of disastrous political campaigns that killed tens of millions, for others, the China created by Mao should be celebrated :: Read the full article »»»»
RELATED! Sweeping Changes to Radical Laws, One Child Policy Eased
China has unveiled sweeping changes to some of its most controversial laws including its one-child policy and its forced labour camps. The major policy shift also includes reductions on the application of the death penalty, reforms to a widely abused “petition” system and changes in a residency registration scheme.
The changes, revealed by the official Xinhua news agency, were announced days after a meeting of the country’s top Communist Party leaders.
Couples will now be allowed to have two children if one of the parents is an only child, significantly widening the exceptions to a rule introduced in 1979 to control China’s then exploding population, now the world’s largest.
The one-child policy is controversial both within and outside China, the policy has at times been brutally enforced, with authorities relying on permits, fines and in some cases forced sterilisations and late-term abortions, often triggering public outrage :: Read the full article »»»»
RELATED! Baby Throwing Drunk Police Officer Arrested
UPDATED! Regional authorities have suspended three senior officials at a local police bureau including the bureau chief after one of its police officers was detained for allegedly throwing a seven-month-old baby girl to the ground, fracturing her skull, state media said on Monday.
19 August 2013: Chinese authorities are investigating a policeman who grabbed a seven-month-old baby girl from her parents and threw her on the ground, fracturing her skull, according to state media.
Guo Zengxi, a policeman from the central city of Linzhou, in Henan province, was on his way to a karaoke bar after drinking with friends one evening last month when he saw a man holding a baby accompanied by his wife.
After betting with his friends that the child was just a doll, the policeman touched her face then grabbed her from her father, before lifting her up and smashing the child on the ground :: Read the full article »»»»