11/23/2009, 00.00
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Huang Qi sentenced to three years: he had helped the Sichuan earthquake victims

The official condemnation was for "possession of state secrets." He was arrested after meeting with families of children killed in the collapse of schools in the earthquake in Sichuan. After the visit of Obama, the trial of Zhou Yongjun, former leader of Tiananmen, begins.

Beijing (AsiaNews / CHRD) - The dissident Huang Qi was sentenced today to three years in prison for "illegally possessing state secrets." Huang was arrested in June 2008 in Chengdu (Sichuan), after having met with some families whose children had died in the earthquake of May 2008.

Huang's wife, Zeng Li, said the ruling is "revenge" for her husband’s commitment to cases concerning the earthquake in Sichuan. Before his arrest Huang was investigating schools that collapsed during the quake. In many places, schools were the only buildings that collapsed (like "tofu puddings), suggesting that they were built without security measures and without cement. The state, immediately after the earthquake had promised an investigation, a promise soon after retracted.

It is not clear what official Huang Li was officially sentenced for. The judge in the court of Wuhou (Chengdu) said that he was in possession of "three documents produced by the government of a certain city," without specifying what kind of documents, which city, what content they had that made them "state secrets”. The wife of the dissident asked for a written copy of the ruling, but they refused, saying that "there is none."

Huang Li is from Chengdu. In 1998 he launched a website that disseminates news about missing or seized persons for human trafficking. Following the site (www.64tianwang.com) started to publish news about injustices and citizens complaints against the government. In February 2003 Huang was sentenced to five years in prison for "inciting subversion of state power." After his release in June 2005, he continued his work in support of human rights.

During his last period of imprisonment, since June 2008, Huang was abused and has not received any medical treatment despite being sick with lung and stomach cancer. His lawyers had asked for his release on bail for health reasons, but have not received any response.

Last week, Barack Obama expressed a desire for greater respect for human rights in China. Huang is the second dissident to appear in court after the departure of U.S. President from China. Before Huang, also in Sichuan, the trial begun of Zhou Yongjun, former leader of the Tiananmen movement, accused of not clearly specified "economic fraud." Zhou, who was arrested after the massacre of June 4, was released in '91 under pressure from international public opinion and had arrived in the U.S. in '92, where he had a family with two children. He returned to China at the end of 2008 to visit his father for dying.

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