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

US, Brazil's Climate-Change Plan: More Renewables, Less Deforestation

update Officials say joint initiative on climate change will allow Brazil, United States to strengthen and accelerate cooperation on issues ranging from land use to clean energy More

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Reporting from Somali capital for past decade, Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal has been working at one of Mogadishu's leading radio stations covering parliament More

After Nearly a Century, Voodoo Opera Rises Again

Opera centers on character named Lolo, a Louisiana plantation worker and Voodoo priestess More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishui
X
Abdulaziz Billow
June 30, 2015 2:16 PM
Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video US Gay Marriage Ruling Yields Real-life Impact

Friday’s landmark Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage throughout the United States is an outcome few thought possible just years ago, and shows a nation that increasingly tolerates and even celebrates the hopes and aspirations of gay people. VOA’s Michael Bowman spoke to a same-sex couple that will benefit from the high court ruling, and to a Christian scholar who is apprehensive about its potential consequences for America’s faith community.
Video

Video Syrians Flee IS Advance in Hasaka

The Syrian government said Monday it has taken back one of several districts in Hasaka overrun by Islamic State militants. But continued fighting elsewhere in the northern city has forced thousands of civilians from their homes. In this report narrated by Bill Rodgers, VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer describes the scene in Amouda, where some of the displaced are taking refuge.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video S. Korea Christians Protest Gay Rights Festival

The U.S. Supreme Court decision mandating marriage equality nationwide has energized gay rights supporters around the world. Gay rights remain a highly contentious issue in a key U.S. ally, South Korea, where police did a deft job Sunday of preventing potential clashes between Christian protesters and gay activists. Kurt Achin reports from Seoul.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Syrian Refugees Return to Tal Abyad

Syrian refugees in Turkey confirm they left their hometown of Tal Abyad because of intense fighting and coalition airstrikes, not because Kurdish fighters were engaged in ethnic cleansing, as some Turkish officials charged. VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer, in Tal Abyad, finds that civilians coming back to the town agree, as we hear in this report narrated by Roger Wilkison.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.
Video

Video In Syrian Crisis, Social Media Offer Small Comforts

Za’atari, a makeshift city in Jordan, may be the only Syrian refugee camp to tweet its activities, in an effort to keep donors motivated as the war in Syria intensifies and the humanitarian crisis deepens. Inside the camp, families say mobile phone applications help hold together families that are physically torn apart. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.

VOA Blogs