08/12/2013, 00.00
CHINA
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Another pro-democracy dissident arrested

Yang Lin has already spent a year in hard labour for signing 'Charter 08', the constitutional manifesto co-authored by Nobel Peace Prize Liu Xiaobo. He could now get five years in prison for "inciting subversion of state power". Hopes for a new dispensation under Xi Jinping's leadership are fast fading.

Beijing (AsiaNews) - China's government is tightening its grip on dissidents who "dare" criticise the one-party system.

Police in the wealthy southern province of Guangdong have arrested Yang Lin, 45, who for years fought for the democratisation of China.

The dissident, one of the signatories of 'Charter 08' co-authored by Nobel Peace Prize Liu Xiaobo, has already spent one year in a forced labour camp.

Yang Lin's brother Mingzhu confirmed the arrest in a telephone interview with the South China Morning Post.

The authorities accuse Yang Lin of "inciting subversion of state power", one of the most common allegations the government uses in its fight against the country's free voices.

If upheld in a court of law, the charge carries a maximum penalty of five years in jail.

According to US-based advocacy group Chinese Human Rights Defenders, the dissident "would not hesitate in throwing himself wholeheartedly in helping disadvantaged citizens fight for their rights and in activities promoting constitutional democracy".

The arrest quashes hopes many had in the past few months that China's new President Xi Jinping might live up to his reputation as a "liberal".

Indeed, the authorities have been relentless in their terror campaign against the pro-democracy movement, detaining at least 16 activists involved in a campaign against Communist Party corruption.

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