News / Asia

China Anti-Corruption Activist Gets 4-Year Sentence

This July 17, 2009 file photo shows legal scholar Xu Zhiyong at a meeting in Beijing.This July 17, 2009 file photo shows legal scholar Xu Zhiyong at a meeting in Beijing.
x
This July 17, 2009 file photo shows legal scholar Xu Zhiyong at a meeting in Beijing.
This July 17, 2009 file photo shows legal scholar Xu Zhiyong at a meeting in Beijing.
A court in China has sentenced a prominent anti-corruption activist to four years in prison for allegedly "gathering a crowd to disrupt public order."
 
The activist, Xu Zhiyong is the founder of the New Citizens' Movement. The group advocates for rule of law and other issues, including the rights of the children of migrant workers and for the public disclosure of the assets of high-ranking officials. ​
 
Shortly after the verdict was read, Xu's lawyer, Zhang Qingfang, came out of Beijing's No. 1 Intermediate People's Court and tried to speak with reporters. But he was quickly surrounded by plain-clothes and uniformed police and forcibly escorted off. Authorities say they were trying to protect his safety and maintain order outside the court.
 
Zhang adamantly disagreed and protested as police carted him away.
 
"I am perfectly safe," he told police. "It is not the journalists who are infringing on my rights."

China Activist's Lawyer Detained After Sentencingi
X
January 26, 2014 3:24 PM

Tight security
 
Much like during Xu Zhiyong's one-day trial last week, authorities had the area around the court locked down with dozens of police vehicles on hand, and cars and police at every street corner. Authorities harassed foreign journalists including those from VOA when they tried to get closer or conduct interviews with Xu's lawyer, or to conduct basic reporting activities such as taking pictures.
 
Despite his protests, Zhang was eventually shoved into a police van and taken away even though he had told police repeatedly that his car was parked nearby.
 
Zhang said police kept him in the van for about 10 minutes and then dropped him off near his car.
 
"We drove around for a little while until journalists had dispersed," Zhang said.
 
He said that while he has been released police are still monitoring his movements.
 
The lawyer said Xu would issue an appeal of the four-year sentence. However, later Sunday on social media, Zhang was pessimistic that it would make any difference at all. Zhang said that he would submit the appeal but make no arguments in support, as the entire proceedings in his view were illegal.
 
Zhang said that even before Xu was indicted, a task force was set up that included high-ranking prosecutorial officials to handle the case. He also noted that friends within the government had warned him prior to the trial about the sensitivity of the case.

Latest big trial
 
Xu's trial is the biggest political rights hearing that China has seen since Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo was sentenced to 11 years in prison in 2009.
 
Liu's trial was held at the same courthouse.
 
Rights activist said the sentencing is a worrying sign that authorities in China are stepping up their crackdown on dissent. Even so, the causes advocated by Xu and others in the group are widely discussed in Chinese state media and by the public.
 
Teng Biao is a rights lawyer and a long-time colleague of Xu. He said the 40-year-old legal scholar has been promoting citizens’ rights for 10 years and has done so legally and peacefully.
 
"The sentence of four years for disrupting public order is completely illegal," Teng said. "This shows that the rule of law in China is at a very bad state, and people like Xu Zhiyong who promote the rule of law are badly needed."
 
Teng said the chances of Xu's appeal succeeding are slim.
 
"Chinese courts are not independent and this case is controlled by a number of other departments," he said. "Xu will continue to appeal because there is still some hope. His daughter was just born and four years is too long, too cruel."

US expresses concern
 
Western governments have voiced their concern about the case, but China has quickly accused them of meddling in the country's internal affairs. Shortly after the verdict was released, the U.S. State Department issued a statement voicing Washington's deep disappointment with the ruling.
 
Washington has urged Beijing to release Xu and other political prisoners immediately and guarantee them the protections and freedoms they are entitled under China's international human rights commitments.
 
The Chinese government has been waging a drive against the New Citizens' Movement for nearly a year. The group advocates civil participation and tries to work within the system to promote change. This month, seven members of the group have been tried or are awaiting trial. Three others were tried in December, but Xu is the first to be sentenced.
 
All of those who are being tried have been accused of participating in the same five events that authorities say disrupted public order. Lawyers say that by law, they should all be tried together and not separately.

You May Like

Video Analysts: Beijing Parade a 'Bazaar' of Stolen Technology

Show commemorating victory over Japan in World War II involved long, medium and short range missiles, a range of tanks and 200 fighter aircraft More

Bernie Sanders Surge Reflects US Shift on Socialism

Although most analysts say it is unlikely he will get the Democratic nomination, Sanders' campaign opens up questions and issues that are otherwise marginalized More

Video On IS Frontline, Kurdish Fighters Ready for Offensive

Peshmerga soldiers say although they need more heavy artillery, they are poised to take the fight to the Islamic State extremists on their turf More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Drowned Migrant Toddler Photo Triggers European Outragei
X
Henry Ridgwell
September 04, 2015 11:36 AM
The harrowing picture of a drowned three-year-old Syrian boy washed up on a Turkish beach appears to have galvanized Europe’s leaders into doing more to address the refugee crisis. France, Germany and Italy issued a joint call Thursday for compulsory quotas of refugees for all EU states. But there were chaotic scenes in Hungary as police tried to force migrants off a train heading for Austria. Henry Ridgwell has more. And a caution, some of the images in this report may be disturbing.
Video

Video Drowned Migrant Toddler Photo Triggers European Outrage

The harrowing picture of a drowned three-year-old Syrian boy washed up on a Turkish beach appears to have galvanized Europe’s leaders into doing more to address the refugee crisis. France, Germany and Italy issued a joint call Thursday for compulsory quotas of refugees for all EU states. But there were chaotic scenes in Hungary as police tried to force migrants off a train heading for Austria. Henry Ridgwell has more. And a caution, some of the images in this report may be disturbing.
Video

Video Russians Observe 11th Anniversary of Beslan School Attack

This week, Russians have been observing the 11th anniversary of the attack by Islamic militants on a school in Russia's North Caucasus region that killed more than 330 hostages, including 186 children. The three-day siege and massacre that started on September 1, 2004 took place in Beslan, a town in the republic of North Ossetia, and is one of the bloodiest terrorist acts ever in Russia. VOA's Mike Richman reports.
Video

Video Native Americans Debate: Father Serra, Saint or Sinner?

Pope Francis will canonize an 18th century missionary to Spanish California during a papal visit to the United States this month.  But some Native Americans have criticized the elevation to sainthood of the missionary priest, Junipero Serra. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan has more from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Calais School Offers Another Face of Europe’s Migrant Crisis

Europe is facing mounting criticism over how it’s handling its biggest migration crisis since World War II. But not all Europeans believe building walls or passing repressive policies are the answer. A school for migrants in the French port city of Calais, is opening doors and building bonds across nationalities. VOA's Lisa Bryant reports.
Video

Video Kurdish Fighters on IS Frontline Ready for Offensive

Finger on the trigger, the Kurdish Peshmerga soldier stared across the dust at a village taken over by Islamic State extremists. The Kurdistan’s Khazir frontline, just 45 minutes from the Islamic State stronghold of Mosul. And at this point, the militants were less than two kilometers away. VOA's Sharon Behn reports.
Video

Video China Announces Troop Cuts at WWII Parade

Chinese President Xi Jinping Thursday announced plans to cut the world’s largest military force by 300,000 troops. The announcement was made during a massive military parade to commemorate victory over Japan in World War II. The event was shunned by most Western leaders and for some is raising fresh concerns about China’s military ambitions. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video Russia-Japan Relations Cool as Putin Visits China for WWII Anniversary

Russian President Vladimir Putin is in Beijing for commemorations of the 70th anniversary of China's WWII victory over Japan. Putin is expected to visit Japan later this year, but tensions between Tokyo and Moscow over islands disputed since the war, and sanctions over Ukraine, could pour cold water on the plan. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Yemen ‘on Brink of Disaster’ as Medical Shortages Soar

Aid agencies warn Yemen is on the brink of humanitarian disaster – with up to half a million children facing severe malnutrition, and hospitals running out of basic medicines. There are fears Yemen's civil war could escalate as the coalition led by Saudi Arabia tries to drive back Houthi rebels, who seized control of much of the country earlier this year. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Apps Helping Kenyan Businesses Stay Ahead of Counterfeiters

Counterfeit goods in Kenya cost the government as much as $1 billion each year in lost tax revenues. The fake goods also hurt entrepreneurs who find it hard to carve out a niche in the market and retain customers. But as Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi, information technology is being used to try to beat the problem.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.

VOA Blogs