February 10, 2012

China Sentences Activist to 7 Years Over Poem

Veteran Chinese democracy activist Zhu Yufu has been sentenced to seven years in prison after writing a poem urging his fellow citizens to rise up and demand greater freedoms.
His wife and son said Friday that Zhu was found guilty of “inciting subversion of state power” by a Chinese court in the eastern city of Hangzhou.

Zhu is the fourth prominent activist to receive a lengthy jail sentence in the past seven weeks, as China cracks down on dissent ahead of a rare leadership transition later in the year.
The ruling comes just before Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping's trip to the United States next week, when human rights is expected to be a key topic discussed. On Thursday, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, who is hosting Xi, said more openness and the protection of human rights is the best way to promote prosperity and stability in China.

Chinese police arrested Zhu Yufu nearly a year ago after he wrote a poem titled “It's Time.” The poem was published during the height of the Arab Spring uprisings that swept across North Africa and the Middle East. Zhu was detained as part of a crackdown by Chinese officials on political dissidents who called for similar protests.
Zhu denies inciting subversion. He says he did not organize any protests. He also denied posting the poem to any public online forum, saying he only shared it with friends.
The 58-year-old dissident has been convicted twice before for his activism. He spent seven years in prison after his first conviction in 1999 and served another two years in prison after a conviction in 2007.
Zhu's poem includes these lines: “It's time, Chinese people! / The square belongs to everyone / the feet are yours / it's time to use your feet and take to the square to make a choice.”

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