News / Asia

China Jails Prominent Rights Activist for 4 Years

FILE - This July 17, 2009 file photo shows legal scholar Xu Zhiyong at a meeting in Beijing, China.
FILE - This July 17, 2009 file photo shows legal scholar Xu Zhiyong at a meeting in Beijing, China.
VOA NewsReuters
A Chinese court has sentenced a prominent rights activist to four years in prison on Sunday after he championed the rights of children from rural areas to be educated in cities and called for officials to disclose their assets as part of an anti-graft campaign.

The Beijing No. 1 Intermediate People's Court sentenced Xu Zhiyong after finding him guilty of "gathering crowds to disrupt public order."

During his one-day trial last week, Xu stayed silent and did not defend himself.

A 40-year-old legal scholar, Xu founded the grassroots New Citizens Movement, which supports democracy and the rule of law and has, as a goal, attempted to launch a crackdown on corrupt officials.

Seven New Citizens Movement members have stood or are standing trial this month. Three others were tried in December, though verdicts have not been delivered.

Xu's jailing will send a stark warning to activists that the Chinese Communist Party will crush any challenge to its rule, especially from those who seek to organize campaigns.

It also diminishes hopes for meaningful political change, even as China pledges to embark on economic reforms.

Xu's lawyer Zhang Qingfang said he will meet Xu within the next two days to get his opinion on whether to lodge an appeal.

"He said [in court] that the last remaining dignity of the Chinese legal system has been destroyed," Zhang told reporters.

"It's not that we can't bear this result, but that fundamentally, the guilty conviction is illegal, is unreasonable and unfair," he said.

There were chaotic scenes outside the court as police shoved and harassed foreign reporters.

Zhang was briefly taken away in a van by police after the hearing. He said police were still tailing him after he was released.

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

The government has waged a 10-month drive against Xu's "New Citizens' Movement," which advocates working within the system to press for change. Hundreds of Chinese citizens have participated in activities related to the movement, according to rights activists.

"This is a shameful but sadly predictable verdict. The Chinese authorities have once again opted for the rule of fear over the rule of law," Roseann Rife, East Asia Research Director at Amnesty International, said in a statement.

"The persecution of those associated with the New Citizens Movement demonstrates how fearful the Chinese leadership are of public calls for change," she said.

China has detained at least 20 activists involved in pressing for asset disclosure by officials, although not all are from the New Citizens' Movement.

Two activists stood trial on Thursday in Beijing and four others will be tried on Monday. Three went on trial in December and face more than 10 years in prison if convicted.

Xu's verdict is also a rebuff to Western governments who have expressed concern about his case.

The U.S. State Department has criticized the crackdown, prompting an angry reaction from Beijing. On Tuesday, China's Foreign Ministry said foreign countries should not interfere with its internal issues.

Through his online essays and Twitter account, Xu pushed for officials to disclose their assets and also campaigned for the rights of children from rural areas to be educated in cities, where many live with their migrant worker parents.

Xu's trial is China's highest-profile proceeding against a dissident since 2009, when Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo was put on trial for subversion after he helped organize the "Charter 08" petition urging the overthrow of one-party rule.

Liu was jailed for 11 years.

During Xu's trial, the court rejected the 68 witnesses the defense had applied to testify. It also barred diplomats from attending the trial and security forces roughed up foreign reporters outside the courthouse.

Some information for this report comes from AP, AFP and Reuters.

You May Like

US, China Have Dueling Definitions of Cybersecurity

Analysts say attribution or or proving that a particular individual or government is responsible for a hack, is a daunting task More

Snowden: I'd Go to Prison to Return to US

Former NSA contractor says he has not received a formal plea-deal offer from US officials, who consider him to be a traitor More

Goodbye Pocahontas: Photos Reveal Today's Real Native Americans

Weary of stereotypes, photographer Matika Wilbur is determined to reshape the public's perception of her people More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: chukwuemeka ukor from: lagos,nigeria
January 26, 2014 3:52 AM
China communist party trying to silence the opposition because he said the criminal authority must declear all their stolen assets.their conscience is guilty bcos they know what they were doing as most of the assets must have been stashed away in foreign lands.communism and copmmunists are a very bad product in china.let them change their ways.nothing has ever lasted forever.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europei
Luis Ramirez
October 02, 2015 4:45 PM
European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europe

European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video First Self-Driving Truck Debuts on European Highways

The first automated semi-trailer truck started its maiden voyage Friday, Oct. 2, on a European highway. The Daimler truck called 'Actros' is the first potentially mass-produced truck whose driver will be required only to monitor the situation, similar to the role of an airline captain while the plane is in autopilot mode. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Migrant Influx Costs Europe, But Economy Could Benefit

The influx of hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants is testing Europe’s ability to respond – especially in the poorer Balkan states. But some analysts argue that Europe will benefit by welcoming the huge numbers of young people – many of them well educated and willing to work. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

Video New Fabric Helps Fight Dust-Related Allergies

Many people around the world suffer from dust-related allergies, caused mainly by tiny mites that live in bed linen. Polish scientists report they have successfully tested a fabric that is impenetrable to the microscopic creatures. VOA’s George Putic has more.

Video Burkina Faso's Economy Deeply Affected by Political Turmoil

Political turmoil in Burkina Faso over the past year has taken a toll on the economy. The transitional government is reporting nearly $70 million in losses in the ten days that followed a short-lived coup by members of the presidential guard earlier this month. The crisis shut businesses and workers went on strike. With elections on the horizon, Emilie Iob reports on what a return to political stability can do for the country's economic recovery.

Video Fleeing Violence, Some Syrians Find Refuge in Irbil

As Syrians continue to flee their country’s unrest to seek new lives in safer places, VOA Persian Service reporter Shepol Abbassi visited Irbil, where a number Syrians have taken refuge. During the religious holidy of Eid al-Adha, the city largely shut down, as temperatures soared. Amy Katz narrates his report.

Video Nigeria’s Wecyclers Work for Reusable Future in Lagos

The streets and lagoons of Africa's largest city - Lagos, Nigeria - are often clogged with trash, almost none of which gets recycled. One company is trying to change that. Chris Stein reports for VOA from Lagos.

Video Sketch Artist Helps Catch Criminals, Gives a Face to Deceased

Police often face the problem of trying to find a crime suspect based on general descriptions that could fit hundreds of people in the vicinity of the crime. In these cases, an artist can use information from witnesses to sketch a likeness that police can show the public via newspapers and television. But, as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, such sketches can also help bring back faces of the dead.

Video Thailand Set to Build China-like Internet Firewall

Thai authorities are planning to tighten control over the Internet, creating a single international access point so they can better monitor content. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok on what is being called Thailand’s own "Great Firewall."

Video Croatian Town’s War History Evokes Empathy for Migrants

As thousands of Afghanistan, Iraqi and Syrian migrants pass through Croatia, locals are reminded of their own experiences with war and refugees in the 1990s. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from the town of Vukovar, where wartime scars still are visible today.

Video Long Drought Affecting California’s Sequoias

California is suffering under a historic four-year drought and scientists say even the state's famed sequoia trees are feeling the pain. The National Park Service has started detailed research to see how it can help the oldest living things on earth survive. VOA’s George Putic reports.

VOA Blogs