Olympic human rights activist Yang Chunlin was sentenced to five years imprisonment Tuesday for 'inciting subversion of state power' by championing his cause with the slogan, “We don't want the Olympics, we want human rights.”
While being taken from the courtroom, police shocked him with electric batons in front of his family. The 20-minute trial took place in the Jiamusi City Intermediate People's Court in Heilongjiang Province.
Rejecting that the Chinese authorities' judicial system is legitimate, Yang refused to sign the court document and insists he will not appeal his sentence.
Yang, a 53-year-old unemployed factory worker, is also is a freelance writer under the pen-name, “Wei Houren.” At the end of 2006, Yang advocated for farmers who lost their farmlands in Fujin City, Heilongjiang. He collected over 10,000 signatures on an open petition letter titled, “We want human rights, not the Olympics.” On July 6, Yang was arrested by the National Security Bureau in Jiamusi. On August 13, he was charged with 'inciting subversion of state power.'
Yang's attorney Li Fangping stated that his client received a sentence that was unduly harsh. He said Yang will now have ten days to decide whether to appeal.
Yang's sister, Yang Chunping, explained that the court hearing, beginning at 3pm on the afternoon of March 24, lasted about 20 minutes in total.
“The court sentenced him to five years imprisonment and two years deprivation of political rights, on charges of 'inciting subversion of state power' because he posted articles online attacking the ruling regime,” said Chunping.
“When asked for his opinion of the verdict, [my brother] declared that the Chinese judicial system isn't legal at all. So what kind of opinion could he have over the sentence? Because his behavior is in complete compliance with the country's freedom of speech laws, his sentencing was not legal. Therefore, he refused to sign on the written judgment. He also expressed that he would not appeal, a decision he had already determined.”
Police Beat Yang with Electric Batons on Site
After the hearing, Chunping said her brother was quickly taken away from court. His family members wished to say a few words to him, urging him to reconsider an appeal. But court police prevented any contact with his family by shocking Yang with electric batons.
“Our family members only wanted to tell my brother to appeal, but the police didn't allow him to speak. They used electric batons to shock him several times,” said Chunping. “My brother was hurt so terribly that he covered his abdomen with his hands. Upon witnessing this tragic scene, my family members all cried loudly in protest and officers quickly threw my brother into a police vehicle.”
“Although my brother didn't sign the sentence in writing after the hearing, the court forced my sister to sign a copy for relatives. We don't know whether this will have any legal effect.”
With no signature Yang's sentence was still valid, said Attorney Li Fangping, as the court had an open hearing.
If Yang did choose to appeal, Li said he would still continue to represent him. But said the case is possibly over, as Yang had openly expressed that he would not appeal.
The court was contacted following the hearing, but no one answered the phone.