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.
TEXT SIZE - +
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

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

Multimedia Relatives of South Korean Ferry Victims Fire at Authorities

46 people are confirmed dead, but some 250 remain trapped inside sunken ferry More

War Legacy Haunts Vietnam, US Relations

$84 million project aims to clean up soil contaminated by Agent Orange More

Wikipedia Proves Useful for Tracking Flu

Technique gave better results than Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Google’s Flu Trends More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid