Activist Xu Zhiyong Moves Closer to Trial

The recent announcement of new asset disclosure requirements for officials has brought no respite for activists who campaigned for them. Beijing police have recommended the trial of New Citizens’ Movement activist Xu Zhiyong for “assembling a crowd to disrupt order in a public place” in order to demand such transparency measures. From Chris Buckley at The New York Times:

The accusations show that the government has targeted Mr. Xu for his leading role in a citizens’ rights movement, which since last year has gained a public following with its demands for greater political freedom and disclosure of officials’ assets as a way to fight corruption. The movement has also protested China’s education system, which prevents students from rural areas from sharing the same resources and opportunities as those in big cities.

[…] The police detained Mr. Xu in July, after he had already spent more than three months under informal house arrest in his apartment. Several other supporters of the citizens’ movement and parallel rights campaigns have been arrested, including a wealthy investor, Wang Gongquan, and a veteran dissident, Yang Maodong. This week, a court in eastern China tried three other participants in the movement.

[…] Mr. Zhang, his lawyer, said prosecutors might spend a month to six months or more considering the case. He said his most recent visit to Mr. Xu was in late November. “He’s doing O.K.,” Mr. Zhang said. “He is very firm that he will defend himself as innocent.” [Source]

In a smuggled video message in August, Xu urged that “no matter in how corrupted and absurd society is, this country needs some courageous citizens to stand up, stick to their faith and realize rights, obligations and dreams.”

The trial of the three activists in Jiangxi this week saw scenes of violence and intimidation outside the courthouse. From Austin Ramzy at Sinosphere:

Liao Minyue, the daughter of Ms. Liu, said that the Xinyu courthouse was surrounded by at least 200 people Wednesday, and when she tried to enter she was surrounded and pushed to the ground. Ms. Liao said an officer warned her Wednesday she could face also face charges if she protested the treatment of her mother.

“One of the court officials told me to stay quiet otherwise I will be locked up for faking testimony and disrespecting the court,” Ms. Liao said in a phone interview. “How can I be locked up for faking testimony if I’m not even a witness?” [Source]