China Democracy Advocate Jailed 12 Years

December 26, 2005 12:00 am Last Updated: December 26, 2005 12:00 am

BEIJING – A Chinese court has sentenced dissident Xu Wanping to 12 years in prison for “incitement to subvert state power”, a New York-based human rights group said in a statement seen on Monday.

Xu was detained in March and initially interrogated about his involvement in a signature drive related to anti-Japanese protests that swept China in April. He was held without access to a lawyer for months before being convicted on Dec. 23, said the group, Human Rights in China.

During his trial, Xu, who lives in the southwestern city of Chongqing, was denied contact with his lawyer “on grounds that his case involved state secrets”, the group said.

China broadly defines as a state secret anything that affects the security and interests of the state, but the limits are vague. Rights groups say the laws are arbitrary enough to be manipulated for political purposes.

Xu served eight years in prison for taking part in the 1989 student-led demonstrations for democracy centred on Tiananmen Square. He was sentenced to three years of re-education through labour in 1998 for his part in trying to register a political party in defiance of a government ban.

Hundreds, possibly thousands, were killed on June 4, 1989, when army tanks and troops brutally crushed nearly two months of protests.