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

    In Britain, The Sun Still Doesn’t Shine

    Invoking Spitfires and Merlin, Leave voters insist country can be great again, following surprising 'Brexit' vote last week

    Double Wave of Suicide Bombings Puts Lebanon, Refugees on Edge

    Following suicide bombings in Christian town of Al-Qaa, on Lebanon's northeast border with Syria, fears of further bombings have risen

    US Senators Warned on Zika After Failing to Pass Funding

    Zika threats and challenges, as well as issues of contraception and vaccines, spelled out as lawmakers point fingers

    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.
    Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roari
    X
    June 28, 2016 10:33 AM
    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roar

    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Melting Pot of Immigrants Working to Restore US Capitol Dome

    The American Iron Works company is one of the firms working to renovate the iconic U.S. Capitol Dome. The company employs immigrants of many different cultural and national backgrounds. VOA’s Arman Tarjimanyan has more.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video New York Pride March A Celebration of Life, Mourning of Loss

    At this year’s march in New York marking the end of pride week, a record-breaking crowd of LGBT activists and allies marched down Manhattan's Fifth Avenue, in what will be long remembered as a powerful display of solidarity and remembrance for the 49 victims killed two weeks ago in an Orlando gay nightclub.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora