China puts veteran activist on trial

2011-12-25 11:06
Beijing - Veteran Chinese activist Chen Xi will go on trial for subversion on Monday amid a crackdown on dissent aimed at silencing the nation's increasingly vocal human rights movement, rights groups said.

Chen will be tried in Guiyang, capital of the southwest province of Guizhou, the Chinese Human Rights Defenders said in a statement on Sunday.

His trial comes amid a heavy-handed crackdown launched by Communist authorities this year amid anonymous Internet calls for protests in China sparked by the political upheaval in the Arab world.

The trial also comes after fellow veteran democracy activist Chen Wei, who is not believed to be related to Chen Xi, was sentenced on Friday to nine years for subversion in neighbouring Sichuan province.

Chen Xi's family was informed of the trial on Saturday and told that three family members would be allowed to attend, the rights group said.

The activist, who is a leading member of the Guizhou Human Rights Research and Discussion Association, was taken into police custody on November 29, when police ransacked his home, confiscating his computer, the rights group said.

10 years in jail for ‘subversion’

Calls to the Guiyang Intermediate Court went unanswered on Sunday.

According to the Hong Kong-based Information Centre for Human Rights, the trial comes after China's top security official Zhou Yongkang last week said crackdowns on "hostile forces" and "illegal religious organisations" would be priority tasks for the coming year.

The Communist Party routinely accuses its opponents of being "hostile forces," often convicting them for subversion and sentencing them to long jail terms.

Chen Xi, 57, served three years in prison for his role in the 1989 Tiananmen democracy protests and was sentenced again to 10 years in prison for subversion in 1995 for advocating democracy, the centre said.

Evidence in his coming trial is believed to be 30 essays he recently penned on advancing political reform and improving human rights in China, it said.

Rights groups said both Chen Xi and Chen Wei, 42, signed Charter 08, a bold manifesto for democracy co-authored by Liu Xiaobo, the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize winner who was jailed for 11 years for subversion on Christmas Day 2009.

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