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Authorities Sentence Chen Wei to 9 Years for Posting Pro-Democracy Essays
The Suining Municipal Intermediate People's Court in Sichuan province sentenced democracy activist Chen Wei on December 23, 2011, to nine years in prison for "inciting subversion of state power," in a case reportedly marred by procedural irregularities. The prosecutor's indictment alleged that four essays Chen authored were intended to incite subversion. The essays had been posted on overseas Web sites and had discussed democratic reform and human rights in China.
The Suining Municipal Intermediate People's Court in Sichuan province sentenced democracy activist Chen Wei on December 23, 2011, to nine years in prison for "inciting subversion of state power" (Associated Press via Washington Post, 23 December 11; New York Times, 23 December 11). Inciting subversion is a crime under Article 105, Paragraph 2, of the Criminal Law. Chen's sentencing document asserted 11 essays Chen authored were intended to incite subversion (available via Chinese Human Rights Defenders (CHRD), 12 January 12). The court also sentenced Chen to two years' deprivation of political rights upon his release. Human Rights in China (21 December 11) has provided links to four of the essays as they appear on Boxun and Independent Chinese Pen, overseas Chinese Web sites that post literary essays and articles on current events, including politics and human rights. The titles of the essays are: "The Illness of the System and the Antidote of Constitutional Democracy," "The Growth of the Civil Opposition Is the Key to China's Democratization," "The Traps of Harmony and the Absence of Equality," and "Sentiments from a Hunger Striker on International Human Rights Day."
Public security officials in Suining detained Chen on February 21 and formally arrested him on March 28 (sentencing document and CHRD, updated 8 December 11), following protests in the Middle East and North Africa and the appearance in mid-February of online calls for "Jasmine Revolution" protests in China. Procuratorate officials (prosecutors) in Suining transferred Chen's case back to the public security bureau for supplementary investigation on two occasions (China Free Press via Boxun, 3 October 11), possibly indicating insufficient evidence in the case. By late October, Public Security Bureau officials reportedly finished the second supplementary investigation and sent his case back to the procuratorate for the third time (Radio Free Asia, 31 October 11).
Authorities attempted to stop Chen's wife from hiring lawyer Liang Xiaojun, and then allowed Chen to meet with lawyer Zheng Jianwei on only two occasions and Liang on only one occasion, according to the December 21 HRIC article. In addition, authorities allowed Chen's wife to meet with him only once, according to HRIC. Authorities in Chen's case did not respond to a September 9, 2011, request made by his wife for bail pending trial. After she resubmitted her request for bail on September 20, domestic security protection officials reportedly told her that bail was not possible in a case like Chen's, according to China Free Press.
Additional Commission Resources on Chen Wei and the 2011 Crackdown Against Human Rights Lawyers, Activists
- 2011 Crackdown Update: Ding Mao, Chen Wei, and Ran Yunfei (November 15, 2011)
- Authorities Crack Down on Rights Defenders, Lawyers, Artists, Bloggers (May 3, 2011)
- Authorities Reportedly Beat, Detain, and Threaten Foreign Journalists Covering "Jasmine Revolution" (March 22, 2011)
- Authorities Censor Access to Information on Middle East and Chinese "Jasmine" Protests (March 22, 2011)
- Section III—Institutions of Democratic Governance, Section II—Criminal Justice, and Section II—Freedom of Expression in the CECC 2011 Annual Report.