Minister of State Michael Roth issued the following statement today (26 January) on the conviction of Chinese human rights activist Xu Zhiyong:
On 26 January, 2014 Chinese human rights activist Xu Zhiyong was sentenced to 4 years in prison by the Beijing No 1 Municipal People’s Court. Mr Xu had campaigned publicly for greater respect for the rule of law and against abuse of power and corruption, and was arrested in July 2013.
As well as Xu, a number of other people who have been active in the New Citizens’ Movement are on trial in Beijing and other cities. It is likely that their sentences will be similarly harsh.
The Federal Government is greatly concerned about this conviction. China’s constitution guarantees its citizens human rights and the freedom of demonstration. In view of the fact that the declared goal of China’s new leaders is to step up the fight against corruption, this sentence can only be met with incomprehension and criticism.
We call upon China’s leaders to strengthen political liberties, the rule of law and transparency and not to disappoint expectations of their willingness to implement reform. This includes progress in respecting human rights. It is lamentable that embassy representatives from Western countries were not allowed to observe the trial.
Xu Zhiyong is the founder of the China New Citizens’ Movement, which publicly calls for a crackdown on corruption and revelation of the wealth of high ranking party officials, as well as ratification of the UN International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.