China Jails Two Zhengzhou 10 Activists Over Eviction Challenge

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Protesters gather in Tiananmen Square in Beijing on June 2, 1989.
Protesters gather in Tiananmen Square in Beijing on June 2, 1989.

Authorities in the central Chinese province of Henan have handed down jail terms of four years and 18 months to two activists from the provincial capital, Zhengzhou.

Jia Lingmin and Liu Diwei were found guilty on Wednesday by the Gongyi District People's Court of "spreading false information online" and "obstructing a normal demolition and eviction operation."

Jia was handed a four-year jail term, while Liu was sentenced to 18 months' imprisonment, Jia's husband Yan Chongmin told RFA after the trial.

The sentences came after they offered legal assistance to local people facing forced eviction from their homes.

"We received a phone call from a judge surnamed Bai at the Gongyi district court today at 10.00 a.m. [telling us] to come to the court," Yan said. "We got there ... and they resumed the court session and immediately passed sentence."

"As they were reading out the charges again, Jia raised her voice in protest, saying they had muddled the facts of the case," he said. "Jia said she would appeal ... she's not going to let this go."

Health worries

Yan said much of the evidence brought by the prosecution had failed to take into account certain facts of the case, and no witnesses were brought.

"They made no mention of any of the things we raised."

Yan said he is extremely worried about his wife's health.

"I am really worried aobut her, even though my wife seemed in good spirits when I saw her in court," he said. "But she has been in a detention center for more than a year now, and her health can't be good."

"She put a brave face on it, but she was suffering inside," Yan said.

Defense lawyer Ma Lianshun said the charges against both defendants were trumped up.

"To find them both guilty was capricious, and a perversion of the law," Ma said. "The government sees anyone who tries to stop it getting rich, taking the people's land and demolishing their homes ... as the greatest form of evil."

"They will use all of their power to persecute such people."

He said Jia's heavier sentence was linked to the fact that she often went to government agencies alone to represent evictees.

Liu was seen by the authorities as assisting her in that work, he said.

Sham trial

He rejected the trial, the verdict and the sentence, however.

"Our courts always find people guilty," Ma said. "This whole trial was a sham."

"No government body is willing to uphold justice; they just do any bad thing the [ruling Chinese Communist] Party tells them to do," he said.

Jia and Liu were among the "Zhengzhou 10" activists who marked the 25th anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen Square military crackdown.

The group was detained in May 2014 for commemorating the bloodshed that ended the student-led democracy movement, as well as the deaths of ousted former premiers Zhao Ziyang and Hu Yaobang.

The Communist Party bans public memorials marking the event, and has continued to ignore growing calls in China and from overseas for a reappraisal of the 1989 student protests, which it once styled a "counterrevolutionary rebellion."

The number of people killed when People's Liberation Army tanks and troops entered Beijing on the night of June 3-4, 1989, remains a mystery.

Beijing authorities once put the death toll at "nearly 300," but the central government has never issued an official toll or list of names, in spite of repeated calls by the Tiananmen Mothers victims' group.

Reported by Yang Fan for RFA's Mandarin Service, and by Wong Lok-to for the Cantonese Service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.





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