Chinese Dissident Zhu Yufu Tried for “Inciting Subversion,” No Verdict Announced

Heavy Sentences in Rapid Succession Have Highlighted Deteriorating Human Rights Situation

(Chinese Human Rights Defenders, January 31, 2012) – The Hangzhou City Intermediate People’s Court in Zhejiang Province today put veteran dissident Zhu Yufu (朱虞) on trial for “inciting subversion of state power.” After a two-and-a-half-hour hearing, the trial ended without a verdict. A long sentence has been expected after the string of severe punishments imposed by Chinese courts in political cases over the past five weeks. In late December, Sichuan activist Chen Wei (陈卫) was given a nine-year sentence and Guizhou activist Chen Xi (陈西) received a 10-year sentence, both for “inciting subversion.” Wuhan dissident Li Tie (李铁) was then sentenced to 10 years for “subversion” in mid-January.

“In the short span of a few weeks, three activists have been given unusually long sentences, while two trials of other activists have ended without verdicts. What Mr. Zhu has in common with those harshly punished seems to be that they wrote articles, but more than that, they were involved in organizing grassroots human rights groups or opposition parties, or collected funding for victims of rights violations,” said Renee Xia, international director of CHRD. “Although the courts only cited the articles they wrote, what really has rattled authorities at the wake of the Arab Spring is that activists are trying to get organized and support each other.”

Zhu’s wife, Jiang Hangli, and son were allowed into the courtroom—the first time in 10 months that his family has seen Zhu. To prevent supporters and friends from gathering at the courthouse, police kept many individuals, including Zhu’s fellow Hangzhou activists, under soft detention at home, turned them away as they went toward the courthouse, or sent some out of town. His wife reported that Zhu seemed in good spirits, though his hair and beard had turned white. Zhu waved to his family members and said, “Keep up the good work!” 

In the procuratorate’s indictment, authorities cited as “evidence” a poem Zhu wrote, titled “It’s Time,” during online calls for “Jasmine Rallies,” which he shared with his friends online, as well as other writings he has published online, his calls for monetary donations for prisoners of conscience, and interviews that he has given.

Zhu’s two lawyers, Li Baiguang and Li Dunyong, defended their client’s innocence. When given the opportunity to speak in court, Zhu argued that his poem “It’s Time” and press interviews he gave were his exercises of his freedom of expression. He maintained that collecting funds to help families of prisoners of conscience was his way to pay back to friends who have helped him when he was previous jailed, and that it was not a crime to accept donations from overseas friends since he had been deprived of job opportunities due to past imprisonment. Zhu told the court that none of these activities constituted “inciting subversion of state power.”

Zhu, 58, was detained on suspicion of “inciting subversion” by police on March 5, 2011, during the crackdown on civil society launched by the Chinese government following online calls for Jasmine Rallies in China. He was formally arrested on April 11. Last July, Zhu’s wife appealed to authorities to release him on bail due to his longstanding poor health, but that request was rejected.

On October 25, 2011, the Shangcheng County People’s Court notified Zhu’s lawyer, Li Dunyong, that it had approved the local procuratorate’s application to dismiss charges against Zhu, a decision which spurred speculation that Zhu may be released. Li said at the time that the procuratorate cited “changes in factual evidence” in seeking dismissal of the charges. However, the Shangcheng County Public Security Bureau re-submitted the case for prosecution in December, causing Li to have to prepare a new defense for his client for the trial that authorities said would open after the Chinese New Year.

A veteran Democracy Wall activist in the 1970s, Zhu, if convicted, would be imprisoned for the third time. Zhu was convicted of “subversion of state power” in 1999 and served seven years in prison for founding the Opposition Party (在野党) magazine, which published articles about the China Democratic Party. After his release in 2006, he spoke out against the torture he suffered in prison and continued to promote democratization. He was detained again in 2007 after a confrontation with a police officer who was questioning his son, and sentenced to two years in prison for “beating police” and “hindering public duty.” 
 
Zhu is one of 11 individuals criminally detained in the “Jasmine Crackdown” later known to have been arrested, and, if convicted, he would be the fourth such detainee known to be sentenced to prison. Five more detainees—Ni Yulan (倪玉) and her husband Dong Jiqin (董继), who were tried without a verdict in December, Gao Chunlian (高纯), Liang Haiyi (梁海), and Xue Mingkai (薛明) —are yet to be tried or have their verdicts announced. Gao, Liang, and Xue were all arrested for “inciting subversion.”
 
“The current trend of severely punishing activists is likely to go on, at least while the new leadership is being ushered into power,” said Renee Xia. “If there are any activists had not been forced into silence or exile by torture and intimidation, as long as they continue to speak up and carry on their activities, the Chinese government has put them on notice: they too will be locked behind bars for many years.”
 
CHRD demands the immediate and unconditional release of Zhu Yufu and all others who have been either imprisoned or detained for exercising free speech. Such individuals are being subjected to persecution in China solely for exercising their human rights to free expression, association, assembly, or for exercising their rights, as elaborated in the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, to collect, accept, and use funding for the purpose of promoting democracy and human rights.

Media Contacts:

Renee Xia, International Director (English and Mandarin), +852 8191 6937 or +1 240 374 8937reneexia@chrdnet.com

Wang Songlian, Research Coordinator (English and Mandarin), +852 8191 1660, songlianwang@chrdnet.com
 

For more information, please see:

Individuals Affected by the Crackdown Following Call for “Jasmine Revolution, January 31, 2012 (updated), CHRD
 
“Zhu Yufu Case Heard, Family Members Attending Subjected to Strict Inspection” (朱虞夫案开庭,亲属旁 听受到严格检查), January 31, 2012, CHRD
 
“Zhu Yufu Case Heard, Court to Announce Verdict at Later Date” (朱虞夫案开庭,法院择日宣判 ), January 30, 2012, CHRD
 
“Lawyer Li Dunyong Goes to Detention Center, Goes Through Defense Procedures Again for Zhu Yufu” (李敦勇律师到看守所重新为朱虞夫办理辩护手续), January 17, 2012, CHRD
 
“Trial to Open in January for ‘Inciting Subversion’ Case Against Zhu Yufu” ( 别关注:朱虞夫 嫌煽动颠覆国家政权案 于本月开庭), January 13, 2012, CHRD
 
“Wu Yilong Held After Home Searched, Zhu Yufu Case Sent Again to Procuratorate” (吴义龙被抄家后无处安身,朱虞夫案重新送检), December 28, 2011, CHRD
 
“Shangcheng Court in Hangzhou Approves Procuratorate’s Application to Dismiss ‘Incitement’ Charges Against Zhu Yufu” (上城法院批准检察院撤销对朱虞夫煽动颠覆国家政权罪的起诉), October 27, 2011, CHRD
 
“Family Submits Bail Application for Zhu Yufu, Case Under Review for Prosecution” (陈树庆:传朱虞夫被审 查起诉,家属提出取保 候审申请), July 12, 2011, CHRD
 
“Hangzhou Democracy Activist Zhu Yufu Formally Arrested” (杭州民主党人朱 虞夫被批准逮捕), April 12, 2011, CHRD

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