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.
William Ide
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

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More