11/24/2007, 00.00
CHINA
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Destroyed by detention a leading dissident renounces appeal

Guo Feixiong, a leading dissident has abandoned plans to appeal against his five-year prison sentence because of the physical and psychological toll wreaked by 14 months in detention. Hu Jia warns: the government wants to use him as an example to dissuade other activists.

Beijing (AsiaNews) – Guo Feixiong, a leading dissident has abandoned plans to appeal against his five-year prison sentence handed down last week, because of the physical and psychological toll wreaked by 14 months in detention. His wife and lawyer made the announcement adding that “he has been psychologically and physically destroyed by 14 months in detention”.

Guo, who is also known as Yang Maodong and is a leading human rights lawyer, was sentenced by Guangzhou's Tianhe District People's Court on November 14th to five years in prison and fined 40,000 Yuan for conducting "illegal business activities”. His so called illegal business is in reality a paper he publishes, called the Shenyang Political Earthquake, which has denounced corruption among leading party officials in the province of Liaoning.

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.

 Mo Shaoping, his lawyer says: “Guo said he was tired of living in uncertainty and had been secluded in detention centres over the past 14 months without seeing the sun. He stressed that he only made the decision because of disappointment with the mainland's legal system”.

According to the activist Hu Jia, “the severe punishment of Guo is meant to frighten other rights activists. He was severely punished just because of his close ties with dissident lawyer Gao Zhisheng and Guangdong's Taishi village incident. The authorities aim to teach all activists a lesson”.

 

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