Activist Quietly Sentenced to 2.5 Years in Prison after Long Delay

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Activist Quietly Sentenced to 2.5 Years in Prison after Long Delay

(Chinese Human Rights Defenders, January 6, 2009)— On December 31, 2008, Chen Qitang (陈启棠, a.k.a. Tianli (天理)), an activist from Guangdong Province, was sentenced to two and a half years in prison for “impersonation and fraud”.

According to Civil Rights and Livelihood Watch, on January 4, Chen’s wife, Zhang Yueqing (张月清) phoned Foshan Court, Guangdong Province, to inquire about her husband’s situation, only to discover that he had been tried and sentenced five days earlier. Chen, apprehended on October 26, 2007, had been detained for more than a year before he was secretly tried.

According to Zhang, Chen did not want to hire a lawyer to represent him. The court did not notify her or any other members of Chen’s family about the trial, or send Zhang a written verdict. Zhang has not decided whether or not to appeal.

CHRD calls for the unconditional and immediate release of Chen Qitang.

CHRD believes that Chen has been incarcerated solely for his peaceful activities of posting articles on the internet and assisting villagers to resist forced land appropriation. The Chinese government has violated Chen’s rights to freedom of expression and association guaranteed in Articles 19 and 22 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which China has signed but not yet ratified. These rights are also enshrined in Article 35 of the Chinese Constitution.

CHRD is appalled that Chen was held in prolonged pre-trial detention without legal explanation. This is in breach of Article 9 (3) of the ICCPR, which states that “anyone arrested or detained on a criminal charge shall be brought promptly before a judge…and shall be entitled to trial within a reasonable time or to release.”

Background

An activist and internet writer, Chen is believed to have been detained while helping villagers in Sanshan Village, Nanhai District, Foshan City, Guangdong Province draft legal documents appealing the confiscation of their land by the local government.

On October 26, 2007, Chen was taken into custody by Foshan City Public Security Bureau Chan City Sub-division. On December 2, 2007, Chen was formally arrested on suspicion of “impersonation and fraud”.

For more information, please see:

“Guangdong Dissident Chen Qitang Sentenced to 2.5 Years <广东异议人士陈启棠被判刑二年半>”, January 5, 2009, https://www.nchrd.org/Article/Class53/200901/20090105101858_12850.html

Media contacts for this press release:

Renee Xia, International Director (English and Mandarin): +1 3015479286
Wang Songlian, Researcher and English Editor (English, Mandarin and Cantonese): +852 81911660

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