China Sentences Democracy Activist to 10 Years

Chinese activist Liu Xianbin has been sentenced to ten years in prison on subversion charges for his online writings. From AP:

Liu Xianbin, who has previously spent a decade in prison, was found guilty of inciting subversion of state power by the Suining Intermediate People’s Court in Sichuan province after a trial that lasted a few hours Friday, his wife Chen Mingxian told The Associated Press.

The trial comes amid a vast crackdown on activism in China. Dozens of well-known lawyers and activists across China have vanished, or have been interrogated, held under house arrest or criminally detained for subversion. The restrictions may reflect government anxiety about possible protests inspired by recent events in the Middle East.

Liu’s sentence is heavy. The charge itself carries a maximum of five years’ imprisonment but courts have the power to impose longer jail sentences if the offense is deemed particularly grave.

Chen said her husband was calm and composed during the trial, and looked relatively well, but that the judge frequently interrupted Liu and their lawyer’s attempts to present a defense.

“The 10-year sentence to me, because we’ve already been through 10 years … (is) a repeat of the painful process, one in which I can only watch and wait anxiously,” Chen said.

Read more about Liu Xianbin via Global Voices.

In the Wall Street Journal, Joshua Rosenzweig writes about the recent crackdown on activists in China:

Dozens of people have been caught up in the crackdown, many facing the possibility of long prison sentences after having been charged with serious state security offenses such as subversion. But they are the lucky ones, for at least they have access to China’s legal process, as flawed as it is. Others, like lawyers Tang Jitian, Jiang Tianyong, Teng Biao, Liu Shihui, Tang Jingling and Li Tiantian are not so fortunate. They simply disappeared after being taken into custody just over a month ago.

Signs of tightening control have been visible for several years. Arrests and prosecutions for state security offenses skyrocketed in 2008 and remain high. But the authorities are now employing a range of new, illegal methods to silence their critics.

Plainclothes police put activists and their family members under restrictive forms of house arrest, depriving them of their rights without any hint of due process. The police prevent suspects from contacting their lawyers and keep them in custody beyond the prescribed time limits. Interrogators practice torture with impunity.

But most terrifying of all is the way in which enforced disappearance appears to have become almost routine.

March 24, 2011 10:34 PM
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Categories: Human Rights, Law, Politics