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

Lebanese Media Unite to Support Palestinians in Gaza

Joint newscast billed as Arab world’s first unified news bulletin in support of Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip More

Photogallery Australian PM Alleges ‘Coverup’ at MH17 Crash Site

Meanwhile, Russia's ambassador to Malaysia denies plane's black boxes were opened before they were handed over to Malaysian officials More

Despite Advances in AIDS Treatment, Stigma Lingers

Leading immunologist tells VOA that stigma is often what prevents those infected with disease from seeking treatment 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.
IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Formi
X
July 22, 2014 10:26 AM
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.
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.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.

AppleAndroid