China: Baseless two year prison sentence for prominent human rights lawyer
The conviction and sentencing of prominent Chinese human rights lawyer Jiang Tianyong to two years in jail is utterly unjust and he should be immediately and unconditionally released, said Amnesty International.
Jiang Tianyong has committed no crime. His unjust conviction is a textbook example of the Chinese authorities’ systematic persecution of those who are brave enough to defend human rights in China today.
On Tuesday, Changsha Intermediate People’s Court, central China, found Jiang Tianyong guilty of “inciting subversion of state power”. At a sham trial in August, Jiang “confessed” and apologized for fabricating rumours of torture by Chinese police and for attending overseas workshop to discuss changing China’s political system.
“Jiang Tianyong has committed no crime. His unjust conviction is a textbook example of the Chinese authorities’ systematic persecution of those who are brave enough to defend human rights in China today,” said William Nee, China researcher at Amnesty International.
“Jiang Tianyong’s trial was a total sham. Even with the most rudimentary examination of the facts the case against him crumbles. His so-called confession and apology, most likely extracted under duress, were nothing more than an act of political theatre directed by the authorities.”
At his trial in August, Jiang Tianyong was accused of fabricating and promoting allegations of torture committed by police against fellow detained lawyer Xie Yang, who was released on bail in May this year.
The torture allegations, however, first came to light after Xie Yang had finally been able to meet with his lawyers in January 2017, two months after Jiang Tianyong was bundled away by police and put in incommunicado detention.
Jiang Tianyong was first taken away by police in November last year, after visiting Xie Yang’s wife. From the moment he was detained, he has been denied access to his lawyers and family and most likely subjected to torture and other ill-treatment. For months, the authorities refused to provide Jiang Tianyong’s family with any information about his whereabouts.
“The Chinese state media claim that Jiang Tianyong’s trial is evidence of the rule of law in action but this is a dangerous fabrication. If there was any justice Jiang Tianyong would be immediately and unconditionally released,” said William Nee.
Jiang Tianyong had previously been detained in May 2012 and March 2014, each time beaten so badly that he sustained severe injuries.
Nearly 250 lawyers and activists have been targeted since the unprecedented crackdown against human rights activists in the country initiated in July 2015. Lawyer Wang Quanzhang has been held in incommunicado detention for more than two years and he is the last of those targeted that is still awaiting trial.