Zheng Yichun Wins Human Rights Award, Loses Appeal

January 30, 2006

The Liaoning High People's Court upheld on December 22, 2005, author Zheng Yichun's seven year prison sentence and three years deprivation of political rights for inciting subversion of state power, according to a December 28 report (in Chinese) on the Epoch Times Web site. The offense is a crime under Article 105 of the Criminal Law. In a statement the same day, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) quoted Zheng's brother as saying that Gao Zhisheng, Zheng's appellate lawyer, was not present at the hearing. Authorities in Beijing recently stripped Gao of his law license after he defended journalists and other politically sensitive clients, including Guo Feixiong, Cai Zhuohua, Xu Wanping, and Guo Guoting. Zheng's brother also told CPJ that Zheng suffers from diabetes and has not received adequate medical treatment for the condition while in custody. The court rejected Zheng's appeal one week after The Museum at The House at Checkpoint Charlie and the International Society for Human Rights (Internationalen Gesellschaft fur Menschenrechte) awarded Zheng the Rainer-Hildebrandt-Medaille human rights award, according to a December 16 report (in German) in Die Welt. Zheng was one of at least five writers that Chinese authorities arrested between December 2004 and March 2005, including Shi Tao, Yang Tianshui, and Li Boguang, as part of a crackdown on public intellectuals. For additional details on Zheng's case, click on "more" below.

Zheng's brother said that authorities detained Zheng on December 3, 2004, and held him for ten days at the Liaohe Hotel in Yingkou city, according to a March 15, 2005, statement from the Independent Chinese PEN Center. A document that appears to be a transcription of the Yingkou Intermediate People's Court verdict (in Chinese) posted on the Epoch Times Web site shows that public security officials placed Zheng under residential surveillance on December 3, 2004, took him into criminal custody on December 20, and officially arrested him on December 31. The document also says that the Yingkou Municipal People's Procuratorate indicted Zheng on March 20, 2005, and the court tried him on April 26. The procuratorate submitted a request to extend the hearing on June 13, 2005, and a request to supplement evidence on July 6. The court held a second hearing on July 21, 2005, and released its verdict, dated September 20, on September 22. According to the court opinion, the government charged that Zheng published 77 articles on the Da Ji Yuan [Epoch Times] and Boxun Web sites from April 2003 to December 2004, including "Indictment of the Chinese Communist Party Criminal Clique," "It is Only Capitalism That Can Save China," "Correctly Recognizing What is the People and What is the Government," and "The Ten Big Systematic Lies That Rule China." The government claimed that in these articles Zheng "employed rumors, defamation, and other means" to "attack China's political system" and "incite subversion to overthrow the socialist system and incite subversion of state power." In support of this claim, the government said:

  • The "Pangu Band" had turned one of the articles, "Indictment of the Chinese Communist Party Criminal Clique," into a rock and roll song and publicly distributed it over the Internet.
  • "The Ten Big Systematic Lies That Rule China" won third place in a global manuscript solicitation competition sponsored by the Epoch Times.
  • After "The China Which Need Not Be Disputed" and "All The Lies That Revise Our Textbooks" were published, readers expressed praise for Zheng's articles.
  • Zheng communicated with Tang Qing, the editor of the Epoch Times Web site, and accepted financial assistance from the Epoch Times.
  • Zheng called for people to "destroy all forms of despotic autocratic political systems," and to "summon up the greatest courage, put forth the greatest efforts, make comprehensive preparations, and make a concerted effort to overthrow the communist despots, and eliminate the origin of evil."

The court's opinion said Zheng "did not contradict the facts or the crime with which the investigatory agencies charged him" during the first hearing. During the second hearing, however, he denied he committed a crime, saying that "without the subjective intent to incite subversion of state power, the crime should not be seen as significant" (under Article 16 of the Criminal Law, "[a]n act is not a crime if it objectively results in harmful consequences due to irresistible or unforeseeable causes rather than intent or negligence). Zheng also denied having communicated with "personnel outside of China." With respect to the charge of accepting financial assistance from outside of China, Zheng said the funds were compensation he received for writing articles. The court rejected Zheng's claims, and found that he communicated with Tang Qing and incited subversion with Tang's encouragement. It also found that, in publishing the articles, he had "disseminated defamatory speech that incited subversion of state power" and "created a deleterious influence both within China and abroad." It found him guilty of violating clause 2 of Article 105 of the Criminal Law, which makes it a crime to "incite others by spreading rumors or slanders or any other means to subvert the State power or overthrow the socialist system." Article 105 authorizes up to five years criminal detention, public surveillance, or deprivation of political rights for a person who incites others by spreading rumors, “slanders” the state, or uses any other means to subvert state power or overthrow the socialist system. In imposing the sentence against Zheng, the court cited Article 106 of the criminal law, which provides: "Whoever commits the crime as prescribed in Article 103, 104 or 105 of this Chapter in collusion with any organ, organization or individual outside the territory of China shall be given a heavier punishment according to the provisions stipulated in these Articles respectively."