China strives hard to become the world’s largest economic superpower, however, the country doesn’t seem to be investing the same amount of energy and keenness when it comes to fundamental human rights – especially freedom of speech – despite widespread criticism and condemnation.
Amnesty International criticized the Chinese court that sentenced one of the country’s most prominent rights advocates to four years in prison on Sunday after he campaigned for the rights of children from rural areas to be educated in cities and for officials to disclose their assets.
The international human rights organization said the imprisonment of Xu Zhiyong is a travesty and he should be released immediately.
“This is a shameful but sadly predictable verdict. The Chinese authorities have once again opted for the rule of fear over the rule of law,” stated Roseann Rife, East Asia Research Director at Amnesty International.
“At best the injustice of prosecuting Xu Zhiyong is hypocrisy of the highest order. On the surface his calls to expose corruption coincide with President Xi Jinping’s own much heralded clampdown.”
After being under three months of informal house arrest, the activist, who demanded Chinese politicians to divulge their assets, was detained in July last year on a charge of "gathering a crowd to disrupt social order."
While his political views have been shunned by his own country, the international community has been more appreciative. He was listed in 2013's Top 100 Global Thinkers by Foreign Policy magazine.
Amnesty concluded that the jailing of the activist only goes to show how afraid the government of China is of any significant political change – a typical indication of a tyrannical state.
“The persecution of those associated with the New Citizens Movement demonstrates how fearful the Chinese leadership is of public calls for change,” the report stated.
“Xu Zhiyong’s calls for justice and accountability are entirely legitimate. He is a prisoner of conscience and he should be released immediately and unconditionally.”
Do you agree that the imprisonment of the Chinese activist is an act of oppression by a government that is – apparently – only interested in making more money?
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