Tianjin, two human rights activists sentenced
by John Ai

They are part of about 300 activists detained since July 2015. Hu Shigen, a leader of an underground Protestant church, was sentenced to seven and a half years in prison for “subversion”. Zhai Yanmin gets three years in prison. Wang Yu, who on August 1 "confessed" on TV, has been released on probation.

Tianjin (AsiaNews) – The trials of lawyers and activists arrested in July 2015 continues in Tianjin. Hu Shigen, was sentenced to 7.5 years in jail for subverting state power by Tianjin No.2 Intermediate Court today. Hu Shigen confessed his guilt and gave up his right to appeal in the court.

According to official Xinhua News Agency, 48 people including five overseas journalists attended the court hearing. Family members of Hu Shigen were not present.

Zhai Yanmin was sentenced to three years in jail with four-year probation for subversion yesterday.

Hu was accused of spreading subversion among lawyers and petitioners. He also allegedly participated in a banquet at a restaurant with accused lawyers including Li Heping and Zhou Shifeng to discuss how the lawyers could intervene into labour movement and sensitive cases in February, 2015.

Hu was also accused of appointing Gou Hongguo to go abroad to be trained regarding Xinjiang and Tibetan independence, contacting overseas human rights organisations, and hyping up sensitive cases to create protests against the authorities.

Hu Shigen graduated from Peking University. He taught in Beijing Language and Culture University. In 1992, he was arrested for commemorating Tiananmen Massacre. He was sentenced to 20 years in jail. After being released in 2008, Hu later became a leader in a house church in Beijing. Hu was accused gathering petitioners and rights lawyers in his underground church.

Earlier, the family members of activists and lawyers with foreign diplomats went to the court to ask the date of the court hearing. The family members was treated violently by police. It is reported that some of them are under house arrest.

According to Xinhua, Zhai Yanmin said he forbid his family members from coming to court and explained that he was "afraid his family members could not accept the sentence".

Rights lawyer Wang Yu was released on probation. Official media aired her TV confession on Monday.

The court was cordoned off by police and security was reinforced. A separate media centre was set up for foreign journalists.