Christian activist sentenced to three years for "subversion"

Gou Hongguo was alleged to have met separatists from Xinjiang, Tibet and Inner Mongolia in Taiwan. He also participated in meetings with workers involved in labor disputes. Former head of the Fengrui law firm, Zhou Shifeng, also sentenced.


Tianjin (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Protestant Christian human rights activist,Gou Hongguo, was sentenced this morning to three years in prison for attempting to "subvert state power". The sentence was suspended for three years.

According to the indictment, Gou - who was part of Hu Shigen's community, also sentenced days before - took part in a meeting of interracial leaders in Taiwan. There were supporters of independence from Xinjiang, Tibet and Inner Mongolia.

The prosecutor acknowledged that the meeting wanted to implement a non-violent resistance and push for social and democratic change in China. But this entails an end to the supremacy of the Communist Party, which led to the charge of "subversion". Gou was also accused of having associated with protests related to workers' rights, that challenge Communist Party rule.

The arguments of the defense, that Gou had gone to Taiwan without knowing who the guests were and on his return did not publish any information about the gathering, were to no avail. The defense lawyer also noted that the meeting only involved 15 people and Gou had a marginal role.

Gou's ruling is the latest of four, which took place this week against human rights lawyers and activists arrested in July 2015.

Yesterday Zhou Shifeng, the former director of the Fengrui law firm,was also sentenced.

Fengrui took on about 100 lawyers and handled many sensitive cases: it represented the victims of the scandal of the melamine milk; the artist Ai Weiwei; the blind activist Chen Guangcheng, now in exile in the United States; the Christian lawyer Gao Zhisheng; Uighur academic Ilham Tohti.

The court ruled that Zhou has repeatedly expressed comments online and in person "attacking the socialist system, the one country two systems policy [that exists in Hong Kong], and incited people to go against state power".

His trial ended with an ironic scene: Zhou spoke for 10 minutes, then stopped by the judges. He "apologized to all 90 million members of the Communist Party" and the government, adding that "the legal system and democracy in China is greater than that of the state of Western law and above all far beyond that of the United States".