Veteran activist #QinYongmin, will be sentenced at 9am today at Wuhan City Intermediate People’s Court. He’s charged with “subverting state power”. His lawyers were threatened by judicial authorities that they “must attend the sentencing or they will bear the consequence”. https://t.co/l0cwSuy5YC— Patrick Poon?? ??? (@patrickpoon) July 10, 2018
People in China who dare to voice their opinions against the authoritarian government have been facing far-reaching consequences. Sometimes, even their families are made to suffer.
In such a display of power abuse, China sentenced prominent pro-democracy activist Qin Yongmin to 13 years in jail for "subversion of state power."
The 64-year-old activist had already served prison for 22 years, all because he practiced his so-called right to free speech in China. Qin has been campaigning against the state for four decades. To no one’s surprise, China ordered jail time for Qin because he dared to speak against the ruling Communist Party, being led by Xi Jinping.
Human rights lawyer Lin Qilei said that Qin had "refused to cooperate with the court" and stayed silent throughout his trial. He was declared guilty online by the Wuhan City Intermediate People's Court, in central China.
According to Frances Eve, a researcher at the NGO Chinese Human Rights Defenders, Qin was "prosecuted for his belief in a democratic China as well as his actions in advocating for human rights."
"Authorities have been unable to build a case against him despite three years of investigation," she said adding that Qin’s sentence was “a reminder that Xi Jinping’s brutal crackdown on human rights continues.”
Ma Lianshun, Qin’s former layer said the ruling was “completely illegal” and a violation of the constitution’s guarantee of the right to free speech. “It is not a criminal activity. He was discussing the road that China can take and the corresponding methodology, which is within the boundary of his right to speech,” explained the lawyer.
Qin is a co-founder of the China Democracy Party. He was sentenced to a 12-year prison term in 1998 after trying to register the party officially. Then in 2015, the activist was arrested for leading a pro-democracy group called China Human Rights Watch. Group activities included organizing discussion groups and criticizing the government's policies online.
China sentenced Qin a day after concluding a human rights dialogue with the EU. This only goes to show that China is still very much an authoritarian state ruled by the Chinese Communist Party where human rights, especially the freedom of expression, association, assembly, and religion are usually curtailed.
The country, however, consistently rejects any criticism of its human rights record, saying it adheres to the rule of law – which it clearly does not.
People on social media condemned Qin’s arrest.
Democracy activist #QinYongmin convicted of "subversion" & sentenced to 13 years in prison. Qin was denied a fair trial & is being persecuted for his freedom of expression & association. The heavy sentence is reminder that Xi Jinping's brutual crackdown on human rights continues pic.twitter.com/bkJwwSMTD7— CHRD????? (@CHRDnet) July 11, 2018
#Breaking Chinese democracy activist sentenced to 13 years. #QinYongmin, first jailed as a "counter-revolutionary" from 1981-1989, has already spent a total of 22 years in prison. https://t.co/HDilpdAllc @AFP— Joanna Chiu ??? (@joannachiu) July 11, 2018
#QinYongmin sentenced for "subversion" in China. In common speech, he previously tried to register the Democratic Party in China, now he campaigned for democracy & human rights. In #China, THAT is subversion.— China Enlightened (@chinaenlighten) July 11, 2018
Speaking of subversion ... #MaoZedonghttps://t.co/1rcIzUpM3f
Thumbnail/Banner Image: Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images