China - Five-year jail term for leader of "human rights not Olympic Games" campaign



    MONTREAL, March 26 /CNW Telbec/ - Reporters Without Borders today called
for the immediate release of human rights activist Yang Chunlin, the leader of
the "We want human rights not Olympic Games" campaign, who was sentenced to
five years in prison followed by two years without civic rights by an
intermediate court in the northeastern city of Jiamusi on 24 March on a charge
of inciting subversion of state authority.
    "By sentencing a human rights activist to a long jail term on the same
day as the Olympic torch lighting ceremony, the Chinese authorities have again
reminded the world of their intransigence towards free expression," Reporters
Without Borders said. "The international community can no longer be satisfied
with the promises recently reiterated by China of possible progress in this
regard."
    The press freedom organisation added: "For this reason, we reiterate our
call for a boycott of the Olympic Games opening ceremony on 8 August and we
will continue to stage protests until that date."
    Guards manhandled Yang, 52, during the trial, which lasted only
20 minutes, and gave him electric shocks with batons when he tried to talk to
the 10 relatives and friends who were in the courtroom. His brother spoke out
in court, publicly questioning his ability to appeal.
    Yang's wife, Sun Liwei, said he pleaded not guilty and refused to sign
the court document recording the sentence, an act of resistance that was
supported by his mother and all the other relatives and friends present. "Yang
Chunlin is someone of the people (...) his only crime is to have said the
truth," Sun said. His sister, Meng Lie, openly accused the court of
"circumventing the law to harass the people."
    Yang has 10 days to appeal but his lawyer, Li Fangping, said: "Yang
Chunlin no longer has any confidence in the Chinese judicial system and is not
sure if he will file an appeal."
    A defender of the rights of peasant farmers in the northeast whose land
has been taken for development, Yang has been held since 6 July 2007. Li and
his other lawyer, Zhang Jianguo, who were unable to see him during the
preparation for the trial, said police subjected him to various forms of
mistreatment during pretrial detention. This included manacling him by the
hands and legs to the four corners of a bench. It is feared he will continue
to be mistreated while serving his sentence.
    Other human rights activists have been detained for expressing their
views about the holding of the Olympic Games in China.
    Wang Guilin and Yu Changwu were arrested for taking part in Yang's "We
want human rights not Olympic Games" campaign. Wang was sentenced to 18 months
of reeducation through work on 28 January. Yu is being held incommunicado.
    Hu Jia, who campaigns on the environment, the rights of AIDS sufferers
and human rights in general, was arrested on 27 December. He was tried on
18 March on a charge of inciting subversion of state authority. The court has
not yet issued its verdict.
    Zheng Mingfang, a Tianjin-based human rights activist who has been in
trouble with the police in the past for organising petitions, has been held
incommunicado since 3 March after writing an open letter in support of Hu Jia
that was published on 6 February. From 2004 to 2006, she was imprisoned for
launching a movement in support of the victims of the Tiananmen Square
crackdown.
    Pro-democracy activist Zhang Wenhe has been forcibly confined to a
psychiatric hospital after brandishing a banner on the streets of Beijing last
October saying: "We want human rights and democracy, not fascist Olympic
Games."




For further information:

For further information: Katherine Borlongan, Secretary General,
Reporters Without Borders, (514) 521-4111, Cell: (514) 258-4208, Fax: (514)
521-7771, rsfcanada@rsf.org

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