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

Kurdish President: More Needed to Defeat Islamic State

In interview with VOA's Persian Service, Massoud Barzani says peshmerga forces have not received weapons, logistical support needed to successfully fight IS in northern Iraq More

Sierra Leone's Stray Dog Population Doubles During Ebola Crisis

Many dog owners fear their pets could infect them with the virus and have abandoned them, leading to the increase and sparking fears of rabies More

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

New methods for mapping pain in the brain not only validate sufferers of chronic pain but might someday also lead to better 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.
New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Paini
X
Shelley Schlender
April 20, 2015 7:03 PM
Pain has a purpose - it can stop you from touching a flame or from walking on a broken leg. As an injury heals, the pain goes away. Usually. But worldwide, one out of every five people suffers from pain that lasts for months and years, leading to lost jobs, depression, and rising despair when medical interventions fail or health experts hint that a pain sufferer is making it up. From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.
Video

Video Hope, Prayer Enter Fight Against S. Africa Xenophobia

South Africa has been swept by disturbing attacks on foreign nationals. Some blame the attacks on a legacy of colonialism, while others say the economy is to blame. Whatever the cause, ordinary South Africans - and South African residents from around the world - say they're praying for the siege of violence to end. Anita Powell reports from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Italy Rescues Migrants After Separate Deadly Capsize Incident

Italy continued its massive search and rescue operation in the Mediterranean Monday for the capsized boat off the coast of Libya that was carrying hundreds of migrants, while at the same time rescuing Syrian migrants from another vessel off the coast of Sicily. Thirteen children were among the 98 Syrian migrants whose boat originated from Turkey on the perilous journey to Europe.
Video

Video New Test Set to Be Game Changer in Eradicating Malaria

The World Health Organization estimates 3.4 billion people are at risk of malaria, with children under the age of five and pregnant women being the most vulnerable. As World Malaria Day approaches (April 25), mortality rates are falling, and a new test -- well into the last stage of trials -- is having positive results in Kenya. Lenny Ruvaga reports for VOA from Nairobi.
Video

Video Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?

Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Overwhelmed by Migrants, Italy Mulls Military Action to Stabilize Libya

Thousands more migrants have arrived on the southern shores of Italy from North Africa in the past two days. Authorities say they expect the total number of arrivals this year to far exceed previous levels, and the government has said military action in Libya might be necessary to stem the flow. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Putin Accuses Kyiv of ‘Cutting Off’ Eastern Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in his annual televised call-in program, again denied there were any Russian troops fighting in Ukraine. He also said the West was trying to ‘contain’ Russia with sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports on reactions to the president’s four-hour TV appearance.
Video

Video Eye Contact Secures Dog's Place in Human Heart

Dogs serve in the military, work with police and assist the disabled, and have been by our side for thousands of years serving as companions and loyal friends. We love them. They love us in return. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on a new study that looks at the bio-chemical bond that cements that human-canine connection.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Search for Bodies of Missing Soldiers

As the cease-fire becomes more fragile in eastern Ukraine, a team of volunteer body collectors travels to the small village of Savur Mohyla in the what pro-Russian separatists call the Donetsk Peoples Republic - to retrieve bodies of fallen Ukrainian servicemen from rebel-held territories. Adam Bailes traveled with the team and has this report.
Video

Video Xenophobic Violence Sweeps South Africa

South Africa, long a haven for African immigrants, has been experiencing the worst xenophobic violence in years, with at least five people killed and hundreds displaced in recent weeks. From Johannesburg, VOA’s Anita Powell brings us this report.
Video

Video Apollo 13, NASA's 'Successful Failure,' Remembered

The Apollo 13 mission in 1970 was supposed to be NASA's third manned trip to the moon, but it became much more. On the flight's 45th anniversary, astronauts and flight directors gathered at Chicago's Adler Planetarium to talk about how the aborted mission changed manned spaceflight and continues to influence space exploration today. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Badly Burned Ukrainian Boy Bravely Fights Back

A 9-year-old Ukrainian boy has returned to his native country after intensive treatment in the United States for life-threatening burns. Volodia Bubela, burned in a house fire almost a year ago, battled back at a Boston hospital, impressing doctors with his bravery. Faith Lapidus narrates this report from VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko.
Video

Video US Maternity Leave Benefits Much Less Than Many Countries

It was almost 20 years ago that representatives of 189 countries met at a UN conference in Beijing and adopted a plan of action to achieve gender equality around the world. Now, two decades later, the University of California Los Angeles World Policy Analysis Center has issued a report examining what the Beijing Platform for Action has achieved. From Los Angeles, Elizabeth Lee has more.
Video

Video Endangered Hawaiian Birds Get Second Chance

Of the world's nearly 9,900 bird species, 13 percent are threatened with extinction, according to BirdLife International. Among them are two Hawaiian honeycreepers - tiny birds that live in the forest canopy, and, as the name implies, survive on nectar from tropical flowers. Scientists at the San Diego Zoo report they have managed to hatch half a dozen of their chicks in captivity, raising hopes that the birds will flutter back from the brink of extinction. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Exhibit Brings Renaissance Master Out of the Shadows

The National Gallery of Art in Washington has raised the curtain on one of the most intriguing painters of the High Renaissance. Mostly ignored after his death in the early 1500s, Italian master Piero di Cosimo is now claiming his place alongside the best-known artists of the period. VOA’s Ardita Dunellari reports.

VOA Blogs