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Two Chinese Activists Clock 10 Years in Prison for ‘Subversion of State Power’

Two eminent Chinese human rights lawyers and activists have been imprisoned for subversion, for more than a decade, according to an advocacy group and one of the men’s spouses.


According to BBC, Xu Zhiyong 50 and Ding Jiaxi 55, two activists in China, were found guilty of “subversion of state power” in trials that were conducted in secret. They were prominent members of the New Citizens’ Movement, a civil rights organization that advocated for constitutional reform and spoke out against government corruption.

Chinese Activists Xu Zhiyong and Ding Jiaxi Jailed
PHOTO/ Courtesy: Chinese Activists Xu Zhiyong and Ding Jiaxi Jailed.

Although Luo Shengchun, the wife of Ding Jiaxi, resides in the United States and has been advocating for his case with US State Department officials, she informed Reuters that she has limited information regarding the sentencing.

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“Their lawyers are forbidden from publishing court verdict documents and they do not dare to reveal where they were sentenced and under what charges. I will not let them put Ding Jiaxi and Xu Zhiyong in jail so easily,” she said.

She also said that Xu received a jail term of 14 years and Ding was sentenced to 12 years on Monday.

“The cruelly farcical convictions and sentences meted out to Xu Zhiyong and Ding Jiaxi show President Xi Jinping’s unstinting hostility towards peaceful activism,” China researcher at Human Rights Watch Yaqiu Wang said.

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They both had previously been imprisoned for their activism.

PHOTO/ Courtesy: Chinese Activists Xu Zhiyong and Ding Jiaxi Jailed.

After they founded the movement, the pair were first arrested in 2013 for their roles in protests calling for equal social and educational benefits for migrant workers in Beijing.

Since Xi took office in 2012, China has significantly cracked down on opposition. Hundreds of human rights lawyers were arrested and many were imprisoned in a string of arrests known as “709” cases, alluding to a crackdown on July 9, 2015.

China dismisses criticism of its human rights record, claiming that it is a rule-of-law country and that imprisoned rights attorneys and activists are criminals who have breached the law.

PHOTO/Courtesy: Protesters with photos of legal scholar Xu Zhiyong shout slogans against a Chinese court’s decision to jail him. 

It is particularly concerning that these two activists were denied access to their preferred legal representation, as well as the lack of openness in their trial. This raises the possibility that their trial was not conducted properly and impartially.

The Chinese government should protect all individuals’ fundamental human rights, including the right to free expression, association, and a fair trial. They should release any individuals jailed for peacefully expressing their thoughts or criticizing the government, and guarantee that they are not tortured or subjected to other sorts of cruelty while in detention.


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