26 December 2009
Christmas – a time to jail dissidents
The Guardian reports that Liu Xiaobo, one of China’s most prominent human rights activists was sentenced to 11 years in prison. Liu is the founder of the Charter 08 campaign for constitutional reform and was given what is a draconian sentence yesterday on Christmas Day, clearly in an attempt to minimise international attention.
Following a year in detention and a two-hour trial, it took the No 1 intermediate people's court in Beijing just 10 minutes to read out the 11-page sentence. Liu was found guilty on Wednesday of subversion, the vaguely defined charge that Communist party leaders often use to imprison political opponents. litigation rights".
"We cannot accept this sentence because we have argued in court that Liu is innocent," said one of his lawyers, Mo Shaoping. His wife could not be reached as her mobile phone was strangely out of order. Amnesty International expressed outrage at the sentence, which it said was the harshest in 35 subversion cases since 2003.
Outside the courtroom and in the Chinese blogosphere, Liu's supporters have initiated a yellow ribbon campaign for his release. "China's Mandela was born this
Christmas," wrote the influential blogger Beichen.
Liu, a former Beijing Normal University professor, is a leading intellectual critic
of the repressive Chinese government. Liu was previously imprisoned for 20 months for taking part in the 1989 student-led protests in Tiananmen Square.
He told friends that he knew the risk of imprisonment when he drafted Charter 08, which demands the open election of public officials, freedom of religion and expression, and the abolition of subversion laws. Liu was arrested last December before the Charter was made public. Other drafters and signatories have been harassed. The mainstream media have been forbidden to cover the subject and censors have blocked many related internet sites and articles. Many Chinese are unaware that it exists.
Liu’s imprisonment is an utter disgrace The Chinese Government looks to have created an icon and focus for protest, perhaps even of the status of Aung San Suu Kyi or, as the Chinese blogger says, Nelson Mandela