Famous Painter Sentenced to Three-Year in Prison

April 16, 2007 Updated: April 16, 2007

On April 13, the famous Chinese painter Yan Zhengxue was sentenced to three years in prison by the Zhejiang Taizhou Intermediate People's Court. His crime was “inciting subversion of state power.”

Yan's wife Zhu Chunliu was interviewed by The Epoch Times . “The sentence is not as bad as we thought it would be, but it is still an illegal sentence. Yan is innocent,” said Zhu.

Zhu was in the courtroom on the day of the verdict, but she was not allowed to talk to Yan. What she worries about most is Yan's health. “He is in poor physical condition and extremely weak,” she said. “He is an old man and suffers from high blood pressure, diabetes and other ailments. I can only hope that he will be released on bail and allowed to obtain medical treatment.”

Yan's defense attorney Li Jianqiang was unable to be in Taizhou on the day of the verdict. He was notified of the verdict during a phone call he received from the judge that same morning. Li said that he would discuss with Yan the possibility of an appeal.

Li told The Epoch Times that initially Yan had been accused by the court of “subverting state power,” but this charge had been reduced to “inciting subversion of state power.” The court had removed charges of him participating in safeguarding land rights of Zhejiang Province and organizing the farmer's union, collecting donations for Chinese exile writer Liu Binyan, and his secret membership in China's Democratic Party. Yan's conviction was focused on the charges that he had published articles on overseas websites.

“Although the penalties have been significantly reduced, the conviction for publishing articles on overseas websites is not tenable,” said Li. “Yan's action does not constitute a crime. We have clearly proven his innocence.”

Li said that they had expected that Yan would be sentenced to prison for at least ten years. The lighter sentence received was due to efforts made by multiple groups. The main reason for the lighter sentence was that Yan had upheld his innocence during the entire proceeding. In addition, Huangzhou democracy activists Zhu Yufu, Wang Rongqing, Wu Gaoxing, Mao Guoxiang and Zhou Guoqiang had bravely testified on Yan's behalf. Speaking from a determined sense of justice, they were able to show that Yan was innocent of the charges for which he had been indicted.

“In addition, the overseas media and international organizations are all paying close attention to this case,” said Li. Chinese as well as overseas people in all walks of life have been supportive and are actively helping. This also played a very significant role in this case.”

Yan was born in 1944 in Zhejiang Province, China. In 1962, he was admitted to the middle school affiliated with the Zhejiang Academy of Fine Arts. In 1990, he was elected mayor of Yuanmingyuan artist village which is known as China's “SOHO.” Many of his artistic works have been displayed in China and internationally, especially those paintings which were created during the time when he was in jail.

In 1993, Yan was arrested by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) regime when he sued the Beijing Public Security Bureau for human rights violations. Since his release in March 1996, he has focused his efforts on safeguarding human rights and exposing the dark side of the CCP justice system. Yan has been arrested and beaten by the Public Security Bureau many times.

On October 18, 2006, Yan's home was ransacked and he was abducted by the Zhejiang Taizhou State Security Bureau. He was charged on October 25 with the crime of “subversion of state power.” On the afternoon of April 5, 2007, Taizhou Intermediate People's Court held a hearing on this case.