Chinese activist Xu Zhiyong has been sentenced in China and is to be jailed for four years, following a long battle over corruption in the country. Zhiyong founded a group called the New Citizens’ Movement, which challenged the Communist Party to make reforms in education and disclose their personal wealth. Zhiyong is a Chinese legal expert.
Zhiyong’s attorney in the Chinese court was Zhang Qingfang. Before the sentencing by the judge, Qingfang said they would appeal. Qingfang was emotional about the decision and condemned the court’s decision. Qingfang himself was taken from the court by Chinese police, who put him into the back of a police car, according to reports.
The Beijing court ruled that the 40-year-old Chinese activist was guilty of disturbing public order by gathering a public crowd. According to the Telegraph in the United Kingdom, this law is often used by the Chinese government to silence its critics and those it deems enemies of the state. Many liberals in China are dissatisfied with the ruling that undermines the Chinese Communist Party’s talk of political reforms to remove corruption. Many consider it to be double speak.
According to National Public Radio (NPR), about a dozen others were also arrested who were also involved in the New Citizens’ Movement. Zhiyong had organized some protests that took place outside a Ministry of Education building in China. The protest took place in 2012 and the emphasis of the protest was on education, particularly the access to it for migrants in China. The prosecution held that the protesters disrupted order and impeded police. Qingang denied the allegation, before the Chinese activist, Zhiyong was ordered to be jailed for four years.
Qinfang described the protests as orderly and said that not a single citizen has testified or reported otherwise. The Telegraph reported that Qinfang was intentionally being held away from members of the press. Zhiyong’s sister was in court but was not permitted to speak to him, according to reports.
Many Chinese legal experts agree that this action is a step in the wrong direction for China, a country that is front and center in the global stage now. The South China Morning Post reported that the trial, which lasted one day only, did not permit witnesses or co-defendants to testify in the Chinese court. Zhiyong was calm in court. Earlier reports stated he vowed to remain silent in the courtroom during the trial. His wife gave birth just a couple of weeks ago to his daughter.
Hu Jia was also reported to be detained after the trial. He was the recipient of a human rights prize in Europe. He said he was prepared for the detainment mentally. The court trial contrasts a Chinese judge’s earlier order to ensure trials are transparent to the public and to offer a fair defense system in which witnesses could be cross-examined. Other activists, according to the South China Morning Post report, said that Zhiyong was not considered to be a leader, and in fact was not informed of all protester actions. The Chinese activist is to be jailed for four years and other trials are to follow.
By Rob Lawson