Two prominent activists in China, lawyer Ding Jiaxi and legal scholar Xu Zhiyong, have been sentenced to 12 and 14 years in jail respectively for subversion, following more than three years of detention. The closed-door trial took place in one day in June 2022 in Shandong province.
Ding and Xu were co-founders of the New Citizens’ Movement, advocating for civil rights and government transparency. They were initially arrested in 2013 for their involvement in protests supporting migrant workers’ rights in Beijing. Human Rights Watch denounced their convictions as “cruelly farcical” and called for their sentences to be overturned.
Ding’s lawyer stated that he had been subjected to constant music blasting and forced to sit upright for seven days straight after his arrest in 2019.
Xu, a former lecturer at Beijing University of Post and Telecommunications, alleged that he had been tortured. Both activists have been vocal about the lack of political openness in China, with Ding stating, “The Chinese people are still living in a state of political oppression, economic control, and ideological enslavement.”
In recent years, several dissidents, including journalists and democracy campaigners, have received lengthy jail sentences in China, prompting criticism of the country’s human rights record.
Beijing has defended its stance, stating that “only the 1.3 billion Chinese people have a say on China’s human rights” in response to international criticism.