A Chinese court yesterday sentenced four anti-graft protesters to between two and three-and-a-half years in jail over their role in small-scale demonstrations, furthering a crackdown on rights activists.
The four were associated with the New Citizens Movement, a loose network whose members held peaceful protests in Beijing last year, carrying banners calling for officials to disclose their assets as a measure against graft.
They were sentenced for “gathering a crowd to disturb public order,” Beijing’s Haidian District Court said on an official microblog. The charge has often been used to detain protesters.
Ding Jiaxi (丁家喜), a well-known human rights lawyer, was jailed for three-and-a-half years, while veteran activist Zhao Chang-qing (趙常青) was jailed for two-and-a-half years, the court said.
Fellow protesters Zhang Baocheng (張寶成) and Li Wei (李蔚) both received two-year sentences.
The verdicts come a week after Beijing’s high court upheld a four-year sentence for Xu Zhiyong (許志永), a founder of the movement. Ten New Citizens Movement members have faced trial this year.
“The ruling is a warning and a threat,” Ge Yongxi (葛永喜), a lawyer for Zhang told reporters, adding that his client complied with police requests to hand over his banners when the protests, involving a handful of activists, were curtailed.
“We think he’s completely innocent. There is no legal basis for the court’s ruling, and the punishment is too heavy,” Ge said, adding that his client would appeal.
The activists were jailed “because they asked for officials to expose their assets,” said Zhang Keke (張科科), a lawyer for Ding.
He added that the court had violated regulations by not granting Ding an opportunity to express a demand to appeal the verdict after it was read out.
Police also detained six activists who traveled to Beijing to stand outside the court yesterday, fellow campaigner Wang Aizhong (王愛忠) told reporters by phone.
Five diplomats attempting to attend the sentencings were barred from doing so, said Raphael Droszewski, a first secretary at the EU’s delegation to China.
He told reporters that the EU was concerned about the verdicts, adding that citizens were being “prosecuted for peacefully expressing their views”.
Security has been heavy outside New Citizens Movement trials, with media barred from standing near courthouses and police sometimes manhandling journalists and diplomats.
The Chinese Communist Party has repeatedly vowed to combat rampant official corruption, with Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) threatening to target high-ranking “tigers” and low-level “flies” amid public anger over the issue.
However the party has cracked down on activists pursuing the same goals, viewing independently organized anti-corruption protests as a challenge to its tight grip on power.
FRENCH AID: Paris has sent a navy ship and aircraft from Reunion Island with some pollution control equipment, but rough seas are spreading the oil spill The operator of a Japanese bulk carrier which ran aground off Mauritius in the Indian Ocean yesterday apologized for a major oil spill, which officials and environmentalists say is creating an ecological disaster, as police prepared to board the ship. The MV Wakashio, operated by Mitsui OSK Lines, struck the reef on Mauritius’ southeast coast on July 25. “We apologize profusely and deeply for the great trouble we have caused,” Mitsui OSK Lines executive vice president Akihiko Ono said at a news conference in Tokyo. The company would “do everything in their power to resolve the issue,” he said. At least 1,000 tonnes of
They stand as eyesores to most passers-by and potential public health risks to authorities, decaying buildings wrapped in tangles of exposed wire, studded with protruding leaky plastic pipes, vegetation billowing from cracks and terraces where particulates from polluted air have accumulated over time. With skyscrapers and ultramodern developments on every side, some of these “nail houses” are also sitting on land worth millions of dollars in Shenzhen’s inferno of a property market, where new-unit and second-hand home prices rival London. In battles over land and development, the nail house phenomenon has become widespread throughout China over the past two decades, with owners
A cat that went missing on a family holiday on the shores of Loch Lomond, Scotland, has been identified 12 years later. Tortoiseshell-and-white Georgie spent October half term in 2008 with her owners at the Rowardennan campsite, but vanished as they were due to return home to Greater Manchester, England. After a search of the site the Davies family departed without Georgie, hoping the three-year-old microchipped feline would be located by someone. Over the intervening 12 years, she remained close to the Queen Elizabeth Forest Park site, being fed and cared for by campsite staff and holidaymakers. After the COVID-19 pandemic hit and lockdown
An Italian alpine resort on Friday remained on high alert over fears that a vast chunk of a glacier on the slopes of the Mont Blanc massif could plummet in high temperatures. “No one gets through! No cars, bikes or pedestrians,” was the message at a checkpoint where an automatic barrier and two guards blocked the small road snaking up into a lush valley below the Planpincieux glacier, near the town of Courmayeur and the Italian-French border. The blockade has largely been greeted with contempt by the locals, one of whom said: “It’s a joke.” The huge ice block measuring around 500,000 cubic