In China, more than ten years in prison for two human rights defenders

Two human rights defenders in China have been sentenced to more than ten years in prison, announced on Monday April 10, the organization Human Rights Watch (HRW), which deplores judicial proceedings "marred with procedural flaws and allegations mistreatment"

In China, more than ten years in prison for two human rights defenders

Two human rights defenders in China have been sentenced to more than ten years in prison, announced on Monday April 10, the organization Human Rights Watch (HRW), which deplores judicial proceedings "marred with procedural flaws and allegations mistreatment".

Xu Zhiyong, who had notably criticized Chinese President Xi Jinping for his handling of the Covid-19 pandemic, was sentenced to fourteen years in prison after a closed trial, still according to HRW. One of these texts, available in English on the China File site, called for the resignation of the head of state and the Chinese Communist Party. His colleague, Ding Jiaxi, was sentenced to twelve years in prison and banned from holding official office for three years, his wife, Sophie Luo Shengchun, told Agence France-Presse (AFP). Both men were found guilty of "subversion of state power". Asked by AFP, a representative of the court refused to confirm the sentences.

"Cruelly grotesque punishments"

The two men, figures of the New Citizens Movement – ​​which calls for constitutional reform and accuses the government of corruption – had already served prison sentences for similar charges in the past, according to the NGO Amesty International. Ding Jiaxi was sentenced to three and a half years in prison in 2014 for "gathering a crowd in a public place for the purpose of disturbing public order". Xu Zhiyong had meanwhile spent four years in prison for asking officials to make a declaration of assets.

"The cruelly grotesque convictions and sentences meted out to Xu Zhiyong and Ding Jiaxi show President Xi Jinping's unabashed hostility to peaceful activism," said Yaqiu Wang, China researcher at Human Rights Watch. Human rights defenders have often questioned the impartiality of Chinese courts, which have a conviction rate of nearly 99%.