By Lobsang Tenchoe
DHARAMSALA, August 5: Amnesty international has called China’s recent wave of trial against human rights lawyers and activists a political charade as their fate was already sealed before the trial.
Citing the need to strengthen national security and stability, Chinese President Xi Jinping’s administration has tightened control over almost every aspect of civil society since 2012. It caught international attention as hundreds of Chinese lawyers were detained in a single weekend in July last year.
In the last couple of days, after staged trials, two rights lawyers, Zhou Shifeng and Hu Shigen, and an activist, Zhai Yanmin were charged with ‘subverting state power’ and given sentences of seven years, seven years and six months and three years (suspended for four years) respectively by Tianjin No.2 People’s Court in North-East China. Another activist, Gou Hongguo awaits his trial.
“This wave of trials against lawyers and activists are a political charade. Their fate was sealed before they stepped into the courtroom and there was no chance that they would ever receive a fair trial,” Amnesty’s official website quoted Roseann Rife, East Asia Research Director at Amnesty International as saying in its report, Aug 4.
The activists sentenced this week were deprived of defense lawyers of their choice and held in pre-trial detention for more than a year.
“The authorities are using vague legal provisions as a weapon to give their politically-motivated assault the veneer of legitimacy. When state security laws are open to such rampant abuse, the law needs to change,” the report quoted Roseann Rife as saying.