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  • » 01/08/2009, 00.00

    CHINA

    Pro-democracy activist Wang Rongqing sentenced to six years for "subversion"



    He is one of the veterans of the pro-democracy movement. The heavy sentence demonstrates that the government intends to suffocate the spread of democratic ideas, following the publication of the Charter 08. Beijing also fears demonstrations in 2009, the 20th anniversary of the massacre in Tiananmen. Wang Rongqing has also written in defense of religious freedom.

    Hangzhou (AsiaNews/CHRD) - The activist Wang Rongqing, 65, has been condemned to six years in prison for "subversion against the state," having supported and spread the "China Democracy Party" (CDP). The sentence was handed down yesterday by the people's court in Hangzhou (Zhejiang).

    According to the verdict, Wang is guilty of "subversion against state power," because he was the main proponent of the Chinese Democracy Party in Zhejiang, and continued to "participate in an active way, organizing and developing it" even after the ministry of public safety had branded it an "enemy organization." Other crimes listed in the sentence are that, before the Olympics in Beijing, Wang organized the first national meeting of the CDP and published many articles on the web, and a book entitled "The opposition party."

    The sentence of six years is one of the highest ever handed down in Zhejiang for pro-democracy activists. According to the CHRD (Chinese Human Rights Defenders), after Wang's arrest, the police advised his family to remain quiet and to accept a public attorney for the trial. In this way, Wang could have received a lesser penalty. Wang's family followed the advice, never gave interviews, and accepted court-appointed lawyer Liu Yong.

    Wang is ill, and is able to move only with the use of crutches. His friends hope that he will appeal, but at the reading of the sentence and to the question of his friends in court asking him to appeal, Wang shrugged his shoulders as if to say this would be useless.

    Zhou Wei, a dissident from Hangzhou who attended the trial, says that the sentence was so heavy because the government is trying to suffocate any democratic criticism after the publication of Charter 08, a document signed by thousands of academics, activists, businessmen, and ordinary people, and out of the fear of popular uprisings in 2009, which marks the 20th anniversary of the massacre in Tiananmen Square.

    Wang Rongqing is a veteran of pro-democracy activism, since the time of the Democracy Wall, established and then abolished by Deng Xiaoping at the end of the 1970's. He then joined the founders of the CDP in the mid-1990's, and was imprisoned on a number of occasions. Currently there are nine members of the CDP in prison in Zhejiang.

    In 2004, Wang was arrested for two weeks, for distributing a draft law on Chinese political parties; in 2005, he was arrested for six months, for organizing the CDP in Zhejiang; in 2006, he was arrested for one month for writing articles against the repression of religious freedom in Zhejiang; in 2008, he was arrested until his sentencing yesterday, for "subversion against state power."

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    See also

    11/03/2009 CHINA
    Twenty years since Tiananmen massacre: China restricts entry visas
    A former student leader of the protests in 1989 has been denied entry to the country, for generic reasons. Human rights groups: this is how Beijing is preparing for the anniversary of the massacre.

    01/04/2009 CHINA
    Party official issues urgent call for democratic reforms
    Within the Communist Party itself, a growing number of voices are calling for political reforms, less censorship, and room for dissent. They are applying pressure to the leaders, who want to talk only about the economy. The police "sequester" a signer of Charter 08 for hours.

    17/12/2008 CHINA
    Bao Tong: Beijing should explain how Charter '08 violates the law
    Endorsements are increasing for the proposal for the democratic transformation of the country. Former communist leader Bao Tong has sent an open letter to Beijing, stressing that everything requested in Charter '08 is already provided for in the Chinese constitution, and asking them to explain "why it is illegal."

    26/09/2005 CHINA – HONG KONG
    HK pro-democracy lawmakers and Chinese Communist officials talk about Tiananmen
    For the first time since 1989 members of Hong Kong Democratic Party visit Guangdong. A small step towards dialogue, but the "way is still long".

    23/02/2009 CHINA - UNITED STATES
    China and U.S. breathe sigh of relief: economy more important than human rights
    For Mrs. Clinton, human rights will no longer be the main issue. In exchange, Beijing has decided to continue buying U.S. Treasury bonds, in order to support the American economy.



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