Renowned Chinese journalist Yang Tianshui was sentenced to 12 years in jail for subversion by a secret tribunal on Tuesday, May 16. The secret court, located in Zhenjiang City in Jiangsu Province, did not allow his friends or relatives to attend the court hearing. The written judgment will be issued after five days of this pronouncement.
On the day of the trial, dozens of dissidents from across the country including Zhao Xin, Li Hai, Yang Zaixin, Chen Shuqing, Zhang Jiankang, Liu Jingsheng, Zeng Ning, Chen Xi, Li Renke, Liao Shuangyuan, Li Guotao, Deng Yongliang, and Fan Ziliang held a 24-hour hunger strike to support Yang Tianshui and protest the sham trial.
Yang Tianshui, born Yang Tongyan, graduated from the History Department of Beijing Normal University in 1982. In 1990, he was sentenced to 10 years in prison on the charge of “counter-revolution.” After being released in May 2000, he continued to work on promoting democracy in China. On December 24, 2004, Yang was detained by the Chinese authorities for his “suspected involvement in instigating subversion of the state power.” On January 24, 2005, he was released on bail pending trial. On December 23, 2005, he was abducted from in front of his home by local national security officers and later placed formally under arrest for the “subversion of state power.”
Yang Tianshui Protests By Not Making an Appeal
Attorney Li Jianqiang disclosed that Yang Tianshui entered a plea of not guilty to the charges filed against him at his trial. Attorneys Li Jianqiang and Lan Fang also openly acted as defense lawyers for Yang Tianshui.
So far, Yang Tianshui has no plans to appeal because he regards his trial as illegal. Attorney Li Jianqiang said that Yang refused to appeal to a higher court in protesting the legality of the court.
Pronouncing the Judgment at the Court Is Rare
As for pronouncing the judgment in court, Zhao Xin and Zeng Ning both said that it is rare, and against all expectations. The majority of similar cases had their judgment pronounced on a chosen date after the trial–some cases can drag on like this for a very long time.
Zhao Xin said that the speed of the verdict indicates that the judgment had been decided prior to the hearing. In his view, the trial was a superficial formality–a sham.
Zeng Ning said that he believes that the authorities had been plotting these proceedings for a long time, including how the trial should be handled and the end result they desired.
He holds this case up to the world as an example of how Chinese dissidents are handled by their own authorities. He said that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has never been soft-handed with dissidents. It harshly suppresses them so as to scare others who might have similar ideas.
The “Velvet Action”
Attorney Li disclosed that the third indictment against Yang Tianshui, which is the most serious so-called “evidence,” is about an incident known as the “Velvet Action.” Yang was accused of being elected part of a rebel democratic government–one that would supposedly fill the void left by the CCP’s inevitable collapse.
Yang refutes the charge as completely fabricated by an increasingly paranoid regime.
According to Attorney Li, the “Velvet Action” is nothing more than a game of politics played on the Internet. He said Yang’s name was used as part of the game, but Yang did not acknowledge any titles conferred upon him and had assumed no responsibilities of elected office. There is no evidence that he is involved with the “Velvet Action” or even that he has committed any subversive acts. Li says the charges are completely unjustified.
The first indictment claims that Yang Tianshui published large quantities of essays in the overseas media, attacking the CCP leaders, with the intention to overthrow the current state power and socialist system.
Attorney Li believes that these articles are merely Yang Tianshui’s value and judgment. They are a kind of understanding that stays at the conscious level, but does not involve any implication or function for taking actions to overthrow the current power.
Honorary Committee Member of the “Zhao Ziyang Funeral Committee”
The second indictment of Yang claims that in January 2005, invited by vice chair Sheng Xue of the Federation for a Democratic China, Yang Tianshui became an honorary committee member of the Zhao Ziyang Funeral Committee initiated by Sheng Xue and others. Yang had also published on the Epoch Times website “Yang Tianshui’s Speech at the D.C. International Gathering to ‘Mourn Ziyang’ and ‘Say Goodbye to the Chinese Communist Party.'”
Attorney Li can’t imagine how it is a threat to state power for Yang to be a member of the Zhao Ziyang Funeral Committee, or to express his grief over Zhao’s passing. He said that it at most proves that Yang approves of the group’s ideology, which is not a crime.
Forming a Party
The fourth indictment claims that on April 2005, Yang Tianshui followed the creed and constitution of the hostile organization, “China Democratic Party,” secretly set up the “Preparatory Team for the Su-Wan Branch of the China Democratic Party,” and actively recruited members for the organization.
Attorney Li finds the evidence provided as to Yang’s links with the China Democratic Party to be severely lacking.