5 years in prison for denouncing government corruption
Guangzhou (AsiaNews) – A district court in the southern metropolis of Guangzhou today condemned Yang Maodong – a well known human rights lawyer – to five years in prison and a fine of 40 thousand Yuan (4 thousand euro) for having “conducted his affairs illegally”. The Chinese Commission for human rights has reported the episode.
The illegal affair of which he stands accuse is in fact, a newspaper Shenyang Political Earthquake, which has repeatedly reported on the widespread corruption of communist leaders in the province of Liaoning.
Yang’s two lawyers – Mo Shaoping and Hu Xiao – were not allowed to be present during the reading of the sentence; moreover the two were beaten by “thugs” during the course of the trial. Yang has yet to decide whether to appeal the sentence. The trail against the activist began on July 9th, but the court applied for a sty which lasted months in order to “find proof” against him. According to Chinese law, a trial cannot last more than six months.
Yang has been in prison since September 2006. The lawyer is well known for having offered legal ad free of cost to the inhabitants of Taishi village, which borders on Yuwotou city, southern Guangdong. The small village of 2,000 residents rose to fame in China and the rest of the world when protests erupted at the end of April because Chen Jinsheng, a high-ranking Community Party leader was re-elected as village head - a post similar to that of mayor - despite charges made against him by residents of embezzlement and misuse of funds. On 28 July, the residents - through a petition to the local government - claimed there had been electoral fraud, accused Chen of embezzlement of public funds and called for his removal. On 29 July, a peaceful protest started with hunger strikes and street blockades.
In the three ensuing months, local authorities resorted to the intervention of public security forces that used water canons against the crowd and arrested demonstrators. Hitmen were hired to target activists, lawyers and foreign journalists. The authorities rejected the petition, then announced it had been accepted, and soon later said the protest was over.