Activist Sentenced To Five Years
By Wang Qian & Si Ming 27/05/2010
On Feb 9, Chinese activist and writer Tan Zuoren was sentenced to five
years in prison on charges of “inciting subversion of state power,”
allegedly for his online comments regarding the 1989 Tiananmen Square
Chinese activist Tan Zuoren's five-year prison sentence was really
aimed at silencing his investigation into corruption in the
construction of school buildings in Sichuan Province, supporters say.
Tan’s supporters say the charges were really aimed at silencing his
investigation into corruption in the construction of school buildings
There were 14,000 school buildings damaged in the 2008 Sichuan
earthquake, according to official Chinese government statistics. Tan
was exposing information that, in many cases, the schools collapsed
while adjacent buildings remained standing. In some districts, schools
were the only buildings that fell.
Tan had also been collating information on students who lost their
lives in the earthquake, attempting to arrive at an accurate student
“That is what really made the officials panic,” Ran Yunfei, a writer from Sichuan, told Sound of Hope Radio.
“Whatever Tan was working on had nothing to do with subversion. It was about exposing corrupt local officials,” Ran said.
Tan’s lawyer, Pu Zhiqiang, says the 56-year-old activist was convicted
based on his email correspondence with an overseas activist for
democracy. In an email, Tan discussed China’s brutal crackdown on
student protestors at Tiananmen Square in 1989.
The verdict was handed down by the Chengdu Intermediate People's Court.
“We filed an appeal, but the court sent a notice saying there will not
be a second trial,” Pu said.
Amnesty International reported that journalists attempting to cover the
trial were harassed by authorities. Two journalists from Hong Kong were
detained in their hotel room under the guise of a drug search.
Supporters of Tan were barred from entering the courtroom.
Defense witness, internationally acclaimed artist Ai Weiwei, was beaten
and illegally detained by uniformed individuals who identified
themselves as police until the trial was over.
In February 2009, Tan called for public action on his civil
investigation into the construction quality of school buildings and was
arrested the following March. The trial of August 2009, following four
months of illegal detention, ended without a verdict.
"Even one day of imprisonment is too much. He only exercised his
freedom of expression and addressed corruption from his own
conscience," Tan Zuoren's wife, Wang Qinghua, told Amnesty