Authorities in the eastern Chinese province of Jiangsu on Thursday jailed a feminist activist for her support of campaigns for the rights of women and children, as her brother revealed that she was tortured and mistreated while in police detention.
Shan Lihua was handed a two-year and three-month prison sentence by the Gangzha District People's Court in Jiangsu's Nantong city, which found her guilty of "picking quarrels and stirring up trouble," her brother told RFA.
The indictment against her cited her "concern" over the 2013 rapes of schoolgirls in the southern island province of Hainan by a headteacher and a deputy principal and in the detention and beating of rights activist Ye Haiyan who launched an online protest against child sex abuse.
Perhaps more tellingly, it listed her photographing of "excessive food consumption" by officials in her home district of Gangzha as another form of alleged troublemaking.
Shan protested her innocence in court before being led away, saying it ran counter to the emphasis of "rule of law" under President Xi Jinping, defense lawyer Zhang Chengmao told RFA.
He said Shan had already indicated she would appeal during their last meeting before the sentencing.
"She says she's innocent, and she's going to appeal because the court found her guilty," Zhang said.
Shan's brother Shan Ronghua said his sister was beaten "until she couldn't stand" while in the local police-run detention center, and left lying on a concrete floor with no water to drink. She was also subjected to verbal abuse and humiliation, he said.
'A bunch of total thugs'
He said Shan had shouted out as she was being hastily removed from the court chamber: "You are a bunch of total thugs, who will be shamed by history. Everything you do is inhuman!"
"Then she was dragged out," he said.
Shan Ronghua said security outside the court buildings was tight on the morning of the sentencing hearing, which lasted around 10 minutes.
"There were 36 seats in the courtroom, with 30 of them taken up by government officials," he said. "There were secret police outside the court and police cars at nearby intersections."
Fellow rights activist Ding Hongfen said Shan is innocent.
"Everything she did was in the public interest, in the hope of monitoring corruption in the judiciary and law-enforcement," Ding said. "She was also involved in educating ordinary people about the law."
Ding said nothing listed in the indictment amounts to a crime under Chinese law.
"Everything she ever did was good, but we have an appalling situation when it comes to the rule of law in China ... and it's always the innocent who suffer, not the real criminals."
Since he became president in 2013, Xi has launched a nationwide crackdown on official corruption, warning members of the ruling Chinese Communist Party to cut out conspicuous wining and dining on public funds.
But his insistence on the "rule of law" came as state security police unleashed an unprecedented campaign against the Chinese legal profession, detaining lawyers and rights activists in large numbers and issuing ever tighter restrictions on their professional role.
Reported by Hai Nan for RFA's Cantonese Service, and by Yang Fan for the Mandarin Service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.