China: Rights website founder jailed for five years is 'latest victim of government assault'
Responding to the five-year prison sentence imposed by a Chinese court against Liu Feiyue, founder of human rights website “Civil Rights and Livelihood Watch, for “inciting subversion of state power”, Patrick Poon, China Researcher at Amnesty International, said:
“Today’s deplorable verdict against Liu Feiyue has nothing to do with justice. He is the latest victim of the Chinese government’s sustained assault against those defending human rights. He is a Prisoner of Conscience who must be immediately and unconditionally released.
“Through his website, Liu Feiyue shone a light on the human rights violations faced by many people in China. But instead of addressing these abuses when they are exposed, the authorities have instead decided to unjustly silence Liu Feiyue. He should not have been prosecuted nor spent a single day in prison for solely exercising his right to freedom of expression.”
Rights website founders targeted
Liu Feiyue is the founder and director of the Hubei-based human rights website, “Civil Rights and Livelihood Watch” (msguancha.com). The website reports on human rights violations suffered by members of grassroots communities in China, particularly those who have lost their homes due to forced land evictions and petitioned the government to seek redress. The website also posts and reposts other activists’ statements on the detention of human rights defenders and calls for their release.
Liu Feiyue is one of several individuals who have been targeted by the authorities for running human rights related websites. Zhen Jianghua, executive director of “Human Rights Campaign in China”, was sentenced to two years’ imprisonment on 28 December 2018, while Huang Qi, founder and director of Sichuan-based website “64 Tianwang”, was secretly tried on 14 January 2019 and is awaiting his verdict.
Liu Feiyue was sentenced at Suizhou City Intermediate People’s Court in Hubei province on Tuesday morning. He was tried on 7 August 2018, but his sentence was not handed down until today. He was placed under criminal detention on 18 November 2016 and formally arrested on 23 December 2016 on suspicion of “inciting subversion of state power”. He was only allowed to see his lawyer for the first time on 25 May 2017.