Chinese authorities sentenced a prominent civil rights activist to four years in prison on Sunday, the first in a series of human rights-related convictions expected over coming weeks.
The Beijing Number 1 Intermediate People’s Court found Xu Zhiyong, 40, guilty of organising protests. His lawyer and supporters have described the trial as a “laughing stock”, and said the result was preordained by the Chinese Communist party.
Mr Xu, a lawyer, has campaigned for greater government transparency and called on the country’s leaders to introduce rules to require government officials to disclose their assets in an attempt to combat widespread corruption.
The sentence was first revealed to waiting reporters by Mr Xu’s lawyer Zhang Qingfang, who was himself briefly detained by police after he tried to brief media outside of the court.
A further three people associated with Mr Xu’s New Citizens Movement were also tried last week, with four additional cases expected to be heard over coming days. Separately, Chinese authorities confirmed at the weekend that they had detained Ilham Tohti, a prominent academic from China’s northwestern Xinjiang region, on suspicion of colluding with terrorists and inciting unrest in the energy-rich territory.
Human rights organisations condemned the Xu sentence. “The Communist party maintains a monopoly on the political process and anyone that speaks out will be severely dealt with,” said Roseann Rife, East Asia research director for Amnesty International. “The persecution of those associated with the New Citizens Movement demonstrates how fearful the Chinese leadership is of public calls for change.”
While President Xi Jinping recently outlined a bold programme of new economic and social reforms, authorities have also made clear that there will be no corresponding relaxation in the political sphere.
Mr Xu, who was detained in April and formally arrested in August, refused to recognise the validity of the charges against him by staying silent during his one-day trial last Wednesday. Only at the end of proceedings did he attempt to read out a lengthy statement, but was cut off by the judge after 10 minutes. The statement was widely circulated online, despite efforts by censors to suppress independent reports and commentary on the trial.
Mr Xu has previously argued that in lobbying for asset disclosure by government officials and for the rights of migrant worker families, he was merely exercising his constitutional rights.
上周，已有3名与许志永的“新公民运动”(New Citizens Movement)有关联的人士受审，预计今后几天还会有四宗此类案件开庭审理。另外，中国当局周末证实，来自新疆的知名学者伊力哈木?土赫提(Ilham Tohti)因涉嫌勾结恐怖分子在新疆煽动叛乱，已经被拘。位于中国西北部的新疆以能源丰富著称。
数家人权组织谴责了许志永案的判决结果。大赦国际(Amnesty International)东亚地区研究总监阮柔安(Roseann Rife)表示：“中共继续垄断着政治议程，任何敢于表示反对的人都会遭受严厉打击。这些‘新公民运动’相关人士受到的迫害表明，中国领导层对人们公开呼吁政治改革有多么恐惧。”