News / Asia

China Court Upholds Jail Term for Activist

A placard with a photo of legal scholar Xu Zhiyong is raised by a demonstrator protesting against a Chinese court’s decision to sentence him in prison outside the Chinese liaison office in Hong Kong, Jan. 27, 2014.
A placard with a photo of legal scholar Xu Zhiyong is raised by a demonstrator protesting against a Chinese court’s decision to sentence him in prison outside the Chinese liaison office in Hong Kong, Jan. 27, 2014.
— In a widely anticipated move, a court in China upheld a four-year jail term given to legal scholar Xu Zhiyong for his political activism. Xu is the founder of a transparency movement that has pressed officials to disclose their assets. His detention and prison sentence have drawn international criticism.
 
Xu Zhiyong had been found guilty in January of gathering a crowd to disturb public order.
 
His appeal, rejected on Friday by the Beijing Intermediate People's Court, is the last legal recourse in his case.
 
Xu, who now faces four years in prison, called the ruling “ridiculous” and told the court Friday that “the haze of Communist autocracy will fade away.”
 
Xu's lawyer Zhang Qingfang said that although he expected a rejection, he had maintained hope that the members of the court would use this appeal as an opportunity to correct their earlier mistake. He said that the court had a very good opportunity but did not take it; a misjudgment on their part.
 
A well-respected scholar of law, Xu Zhiyong has spent the last decade championing a moderate approach to political reform in China.
 
More recently, together with other members of a loosely organized group called the New Citizens Movement, he had been advocating for better measures to fight corruption among officials, increase transparency, and guarantee equal access to education and jobs.
 
The group held regular meetings to discuss politics and some members organized small scale demonstrations around the country.
 
Prosecutors who charged him in 2013 said Xu Zhiyong used the issue of asset disclosure and education equality to gather hundreds of people in different rallies and create chaos in the streets of Beijing.
 
Human rights groups maintain that Xu's only "crime" is to have exercised his constitutional right to free speech.
 
On Friday, Amnesty International called the court's decision to reject Xu's appeal shameful and hypocritical.
 
Xu's case is the first high-profile trial of an activist under Xi Jinping's leadership. Analysts have highlighted a contradiction between Xi's stated resolve to fight corruption and inequality, with his treatment of grassroots groups who are championing the same things.
 
Prominent human rights lawyer Teng Biao called the prosecution against Xu Zhiyong “completely unjust,” but thinks it will not have the effect that authorities hope for. He said the government's intense methods, which might scare some people away, will for the most part act as a wake-up call for people to understand the problems within the system. Teng predicted that more people will protest.
 
The government's prosecution against the New Citizens Movement includes trials against other less high-profile members. Last week, two other activists were tried in Beijing, and another four will stand trial on Monday.
 
An official website launched by members of the group on Friday is not accessible in China, where authorities strictly police the Internet and censor sensitive political material.
 
Xu Zhiyong's autobiography was also published on Friday in Hong Kong.
 
Xu's lawyer Zhang Qingfang says that the jail term will not scare Xu away from politics. Zhang said Xu will have the next few years free of interference to think about the future of his country.

You May Like

Mali's Female Basketball Players Rebound After Islamist Occupation

Islamist extremists ruled northern Mali for most of 2012, imposing strict Sharia law, and now some 18 months later, the region is slowly getting back on its feet More

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

Many Chinese-made products go unsold, for now, with numerous Vietnamese consumers still angry over recent dispute More

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Wangchuk from: NY
April 14, 2014 10:21 AM
The prosecution of Xu demonstrates the lack of free speech in China. Even though the PRC Constitution guarantees freedom of speech, we see the CCP doesn't respect the Constitution or rule of law. Sadly even judges in China abandon their principles of law and respect for the Constitution since the judiciary is also controlled by the CCP. Constitutional democracy with rule of law is the only way to truly reform China's human rights conditions.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid