A Chinese court has sentenced democracy activist Chen Wei to nine years in prison, for what they call inciting subversion against the State.
Mr. Chen’s essays on various overseas websites for the defense of human rights were judged to be “heinous” by the Chinese authorities. The heavy sentence may be due to the fact they said he is a repeat offender and his “crime was heinous, and influence vile.”
Mr Chen and his lawyers were interrupted by the judge several times during the two hour appearance in court. The Human Rights in China website reports that as they took Mr. Chen away, he shouted “Innocent! Constitutional democracy will prevail! Dictatorship will perish!”
United Nations human rights chief Navi Pillay voiced her deep concern about the verdict and extremely harsh sentencing of Mr. Gao. She said the harsh sentencing represents a serious setback for the protection and promotion of human rights in China.
“The conviction and extremely harsh sentencing of Chen Wei indicates a further tightening of the severe restrictions on the scope of freedom of expression in China that has been seen over the last two years.”
– UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay
Ms. Pillay said the verdict is the latest manifestation of an escalating clamp-down on the activities of human rights defenders in China. She called on Chinese authorities to release anyone detained for peacefully exercising their right to freedom of expression.
Mr. Chen was one of the student leaders in the 1989 Democracy Movement, and he has already spent more than five years in prison as a result of his peaceful activities as a dissident.
The nine year sentence is the third heaviest , two other activists, Liu Xiaobo in December 2009, and Liu Xianbin, in March this year, were sentenced to 11 and 10 years respectively, on the same charges.
Secret Detention of Lawyer and Activist Gao Zhishen
On Friday, UN human rights experts denounced the secret detention of Chinese Lawyer and activist, Mr. Gao Zhishen. He was first arrested in 2006 for his advocacy work against violations of human rights in the country.
Mr. Gao has been secretly detained several times. Reports said for the past 20 months, he has been detained in an unknown location. Mr. Gao is a Christian. This is the reason he continued to support and defend activists.