Tan Zuorens Harsh Sentence Upheld by Sichuan High Court

(Chinese Human Rights Defenders- June 9,2010) The Sichuan Provincial High People’s Court announced this morningthat ithad upheld the judgment of activist and environmentalist Tan Zuoren (谭作人).Tan was convicted of “inciting subversion of state power” in February2010 andsentenced to five years in prison, with an additional three years’deprivationof political rights, following a trial in August 2009.

 

“The Sichuan High Court squandered an opportunityto correct the lower court’s harsh and unfair verdict,” said Renee Xia,CHRD’sInternational Director. “Mr. Tan is yet another victim of the Chinesegovernment's abuse of the legal system to persecute human rightsactivists.”

 

About 50 supporters gathered outside ofthe Sichuan Intermediate People’sCourt, where the verdict was announced. At least four supporters,including Tan’sdaughter Li Chang (李畅), Chengdu activist ChenYunfei (陈云飞) and petitioner LiTinghui (李廷惠), were taken away bythe police. Representatives from the German embassy as well as a numberof HongKong media were present outside of the courthouse. Tan’s wife wasallowed toenter the court.

 

Shortly after the verdict was announcedin February 2010, Tan appealed. On April 19, the Sichuan High Courtrejected hisrequest for an open hearing. On April 20, Tan’s lawyers Pu Zhiqiang (浦志强)and Xia Lin (夏霖) then submitted asecond application for an open hearing of Tan’s appeal along with adefensestatement (for the full text of the defense statement, in Chinese,please clickhere).On June 6, the Sichuan High Court contacted Mr. Pu to inform him that averdicthad already been reached and that it would be announced on June 9.

 

According to Article 187 ofChina’sCriminal Procedure Law, courts of second instance are not required toopen acourt session to hear an appeal if judges believe “the criminal factsareclear.” Public hearings of appeals for politically sensitive cases,such as Tan’s,are rarely granted. Both Liu Xiaobo (刘晓波)and Huang Qi (黄琦) had their sentencesupheld in recent months following closed reviews of their appeals.

 

CHRD continuesto call for the immediate and unconditional release of Tan Zuoren. WebelieveTan has been sentenced to prison for investigatingstudent deaths in the 2008 Sichuan earthquake and for expressing hisopinions regardingthe Tiananmen Massacre. By prosecuting Tan for his expression andnonviolentactions, the Chinese government has violated its own Constitution, aswell as theInternational Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which Chinasigned but hasnot yet ratified.

 

Background

 

Tan, based in Chengdu, Sichuan Province,is a local activist. After the Sichuan earthquake in May 2008, Tanpublished anumber of commentaries online that were critical of the government. InFebruary2009, Tan released a proposal calling on netizens to travel to SichuanProvinceto compile a list of students who died in the earthquake and toinvestigate thequality of collapsed school buildings, as well as to assist parents ofthesechildren in their fight for justice. Tan had hoped to finish hisinvestigationby the first anniversary of the earthquake. However, he was taken intopolicecustody on March 28, 2009, and later arrested and tried for “incitingsubversion of state power.” It is believed that Tan’s arrest wasrelated to hisearthquake investigations; however, when Tan was convicted on February9, 2010,the court wrote that Tan’s “crime” consisted of attempting to organizecommemorative activities for the 20th anniversary of theTiananmenMassacre and corresponding and conducting interviews with “hostileforeignforces.”

 

Media Contacts for this Release:

 

Renee Xia, International Director(English and Mandarin), +852 8191 6937 or +1 301 547 9286

Wang Songlian, Research Coordinator(English and Mandarin), +852 8170 0237

David Smalls, Researcher (English), +1347 448 5285

 

For more information, please see:

 

“Activist TanZuoren Sentenced to Five Years in Prison for ‘Inciting Subversion,’”February10, 2010, http://chrdnet.org/2010/02/10/activist-tan-zuoren-sentenced-to-five-years-in-prison-for-inciting-subversion/.

“Chengdu Police and Court Flout Law in‘Truly Disgraceful’ Trial of Tan Zuoren,” August 13, 2009, http://crd-net.org/article/Class9/Class10/200908/20090813040922_16788.html.

 “OurChildren,” a documentary film about efforts to investigate studentdeaths inthe Sichuan earthquake: http://www.youtube.com/view_play_list?p=6D03DD4EEEA1F7CB.

“Laoma Tihua,” a documentary film aboutthe experience of witnesses detained during Tan Zuoren’s trial: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MOFyq5M8ZKU.

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