Activist Yang Maodong Sentenced to Five Years in Prison

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Activist Yang Maodong Sentenced to Five Years in Prison

(Chinese Human Rights Defenders, November 14, 2007) – Yang Maodong (杨茂东,a.k.a. Guo Feixiong (郭飞雄)), a Guangzhou-based activist, writer and legal activist, was sentenced to five years’ imprisonment and a fine of 40,000 RMB for “operating an illegal business” by the Tianhe District Court of Guangzhou City, Guangdong Province on November 14, 2007.

According to a report by the group, Citizen’s Rights & Livelihood Watch, Mr. Yang’s lawyers, Mo Shaoping and Hu Xiao, were not present at the 20-minute sentencing hearing. Yang’s wife, Zhang Qing, was present but no friends or journalists were allowed. Yang looked much thinner but he was spirited and calm. Yang, who has been detained at Guangzhou City No. 3 Detention Center, said he would consult his lawyers before deciding whether to appeal his sentence.

Yang was tried by the Tianhe District Court on July 9, 2007. After the trial, the Tianhe District prosecutor requested that the District Public Security Bureau collect more evidence. At the end of August, the Tianhe Court asked the Guangdong Provincial Higher Court to grant it one more month to decide whether to re-open the case for trial or to reach its verdict upon further evidence in mid-October. In mid-October, the court asked for an additional month’s extension. Chinese law requires the court to reach a verdict no longer than one month (or, under special circumstances, six weeks) after the initial trial.

Yang has been detained since September 2006. He is known for his role in 2005 as a legal adviser to villagers in Taishi Village in rural Guangdong. In autumn 2005, he was detained for three months for providing legal advice to Taishi villagers seeking the removal, through a recall motion, of a village committee head on suspicion of corruption. After his release that December, police repeatedly monitored, harassed and beat Yang. Yang then mobilized support and assistance for the hunger strike launched by the Beijing lawyer, Gao Zhisheng, who was arrested and detained in August 2006. Following Gao’s arrest, in September 2006, Yang was arrested and detained on suspicion of “illegal business dealings” by Guangzhou police. The business in question is a publication, Shenyang Political Earthquake, which exposed government corruption in Shenyang, Liaoning Province. Yang’s detention has lasted over a year, during which time the Guangzhou Procuratorate returned his case twice to the Guangzhou police for additional investigation, a sign that the authorities lack evidence to prosecute Yang. While in detention, Yang has suffered repeated torture.

Click here for CHRD’s previous briefing on Yang.

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