Monday, March 24, 2008

Chinese dissident jailed for five years after human rights petition

The Guardian, Jonathan Watts in Beijing
March 25 2008 - A Chinese dissident who dared to claim that human rights were more important than the Olympic games was sentenced to five years in prison yesterday after being found guilty of subversion.

Yang Chunlin, an unemployed former factory worker from Jiamusi, Heilongjiang province, was accused of accepting money from hostile foreign organisations, writing critical articles, and organising a petition on behalf of farmers who lost their land to developers. The petition, which was circulated last year, declared: "We don't want the Olympics, we want human rights." According to Yang's family, it was signed by 7,000 to 8,000 people.

His sister Yang Chunping said the sentence was excessive because of the timing. "My brother helped farmers asking for land. He might have criticised the party as well as some officials, but all he did is to improve the development of democracy in China. What he said is based on freedom of speech. It is not against the law," she said. "If it were not Olympic year, my brother won't get such a heavy sentence."

The court passed sentence as the Olympics torch left Athens on its way to Beijing for the games this August. China wants to use the Olympics to highlight how economic development has lifted hundreds of millions of people out of poverty, but critics see the event as an opportunity to highlight human rights abuses.

Yang is not the first dissident to suffer legal action for speaking out. Hu Jia, a civil rights campaigner, was tried on a subversion charge last week and is awaiting sentence. Last month, democracy activist Lu Gengsong was given four years in jail on the same charge. Others, such as petitioner Liu Jie, have been put into "education through labour" camps for speaking out about human rights abuses and land seizures.

Yang was accused of receiving 10,000 yuan (£700) from the China Liberal Democracy party, which the communist authorities in Beijing have designated a hostile organisation. The dissident is innocent but will not appeal, according to his lawyer Li Fangping, because he does not want to legitimise what he considers a flawed legal process.

OLYMPIC WATCH: Human Rights in China and Beijing 2008

9 comments:

internationalboss said...

China: women considered as second class citizen, the Yangtze polluted to a third of its length, no respect for wildlife,BRUTALIZATION OF TIBET, and the "made in China" items and foods, which for quite a high number of items, the past two years, have been invading our markets because people did want cheap things regardless of how it is made: we now do find out that many of those goods have got some toxic products in it. We can see that for many Chinese products that the quality is not there now and it is made with dangerous ingredients/metals/chemicals (as well as the fact that the Chinese exploit their own people to do things cheap and are very polluted since 2007) WE HAVE THE POWER so, it seems that more and more people DO boycott those products. Businesses too from Trader Joe's to Mattel passing by Toys R Us.
CONCLUSION: China is going to eat some humility pie within the next 4 years big time! Good...

MaKina said...

Agree. One can only hope that the governments of the free world will wake up to all of this, including the IOC. Wouldn't that be something?

Jim Kleban said...

If you want to see the Olympics and Chinese government firsthand, feel free to visit Find Beijing Tours for cheap accommodation.

You can be a much more effective boycotter by actually going to Beijing and then not attending any of the events.

MaKina said...

Thanks Jim but my presence is more effective over here where I can express my thoughts and beam the light on Beijing's atrocious human rights record. I certainly couldn't do that over there. And why give them my money? Any money that they get from the free world in investments, etc. only goes towards fueling the persecution as we know it.

Josh said...

Perhaps a boycott of the opening ceremonies by participating countries would send a message. For athletes that worked their entire lives for the Games, I feel boycotts of the entire Games imposed by governments around the world is also unfair. A boycott of the opening ceremonies would be the best of both worlds for human rights and for the athletes.

MaKina said...

The Games could easily be relocated and the athletes would keep their honour intact and the Olympic spirit wouldn't be tarnished either. Beijing would certainly get the hint then. Do you reckon?

Wizz2u said...

I agree wholeheartedly with internationalboss. Very well said! The Olympic Games are a display of unity, human beings from all corners of the globe competing against one another in the spirit of sport. WHY WHY WHY does the IOC not recognise that what China is doing contradicts what the Olympics are supposed to be about! The scary thought is, as one of the global super-powers, China finds it so easy to extend it's middle finger to the rest of the world, blatantly defying it's wishes for peace and harmony. We can only hope for a major natural disaster to head Chinas way. They are the planets biggest threat without a doubt!

Ping said...

ironically this land seizure is done on behalf of foreign investors/developers to make way for malls and apartment buildings.

capitalism at its best.

there was one case where the village council SOLD (without permission of the residents) land to the developers literally. i.e. they came in bulldozers and took all the top soil, all that was left was a giant hole in the ground.

hence why the farmers are pissed.

MaKina said...

WHY WHY WHY did the IOC give them the Games?

For political reasons, duh!

ps - And farmers won't get any compensation for their stolen land either -- the corrupt officials will pocket it faster than you can say 'torture'.