China Activist Gets Hard Labor Without Trial

Hunan activist Xiao Yong has been sentenced without trial to reform-through-labor after opposing government handling of fellow dissident Li Wangyang’s death. He had already earned frequent flyer membership in China’s police system by taking to the streets to call for political reform. From Yaxue Cao at Seeing Red in China:

Xiao Yong has been an activist based in Guangzhou for the last few years. According to a friend of his with whom I spoke just a short while ago, he had traveled to many places in China to participate in rights struggles. While on trains, the friend said, he would engage travelers in conversations about freedoms and rights. And he had been frequently summoned by police to “hecha”, or to be interrogated, warned and threatened.

On March 30th this year, shortly after the Two Meetings (两会) in Beijing concluded where Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao once again spoke of the urgent need for political reform and called upon the people to push for it, Xiao Yong and a dozen or so others were on street in Guangzhou holding signs such as “No vote, no future”, “Hu Jintao leads the way to disclose assets” and more. Six were detained on allegations of “illegally gathering, marching or demonstrating,” including Xiao Yong. They were released after a month or so on probation.

[…] Xiao Yong made it clear in his calls that he wants to get legal assistance to challenge his case.

But Xiao’s demand for an attorney might not be met easily, as Pang Yong, a rights lawyer involved in the case, was also briefly detained. From AFP:

“I can’t say for sure that Xiao Yong was sentenced because of the Li Wangyang incident,” lawyer Pang told AFP, “but it appears that this is the case.”

[…] Xiao’s family was hoping to hire Pang to bring a case against the police over apparent illegalities in the sentencing, the lawyer said, but police broke up a meeting at the family home on Saturday and briefly took him into custody.

“The family wants to hire me, but they are getting too much pressure from the authorities, so we will have to wait to see if a lawsuit can be brought later,” Pang said.

Read more about Li Wangyang and civil society in China via CDT.