Two men have been charged with “subversion of state power” for holding the 2019 conference, as a new human rights index ranks China last in the region.
Two prominent Chinese human rights defenders arrested more than two years ago for attending an informal civil society summit in Xiamen in late 2019 will stand trial this week.
Legal scholar Xu Zhiyong will be tried on Wednesday and lawyer Ding Jiaxi will be tried on Thursday on charges of “subversion of state power,” according to Amnesty International.
The two were among the participants who were recently brought to court at the Xiamen summit. Chinese authorities have arrested dozens of summit attendees for discussing current affairs and civil society issues since December 2019, underscoring the shrinking space for the mildest dissent in China.
Their arrests also follow a broader crackdown on human rights defenders that began in 2015 President Xi Jinping.
Amnesty International’s China campaigner Gwen Lee said the couple were on trial “not because they had committed any internationally recognized crimes, but simply because they held views that the government did not like”.
Xu and Ding are well-known figures in China, and Xu founded the New Citizens Movement in 2012, focusing on issues such as corruption and government transparency. Ding has also been a key member of the group in the past.
They have also been in jail before for their work.Xu was jailed January 2014 Four years For the work he did on behalf of the children of migrant workers during his service at Ding three and a half years According to Amnesty International, during the same period, “gathering crowds disrupted public order”.
Since their arrests in late 2019 and early 2020, the men have been ““Residential Surveillance at a Designated Residence”. The procedure is used to hold prisoners without charge and is viewed by rights groups as a form of “enforced disappearance.”
While in custody, Xu and Ding were reportedly barred from meeting with their lawyers and held for interrogation while strapped to a “tiger chair,” a device that restricts physical movement.
In China, human rights advocates like Xu and Ding are most at risk of arbitrary arrests, enforced disappearances, torture and ill-treatment and other human rights abuses, according to a new human rights index released Wednesday by the Human Rights Measurement Initiative (HRMI). .
The HRMI Index provides composite scores for issues such as housing or education rights, as well as civil and political rights in 40 countries, including China. According to the 2021 survey of domestic and foreign respondents, China scored 2.8 out of 10 in indicators measuring “national security.”
Thalia Kehoe Rowden, HRMI’s head of strategy and communications, said the findings also revealed widespread torture and ill-treatment by government agents, political dissidents and ethnic minorities, including Uighurs most at risk.
“Human rights advocates, protesters, people of specific political beliefs, workers’ rights advocates, who are among those most frequently identified as at risk of torture, enforced disappearances and arbitrary arrests,” Keo Luwoden told The Peninsula TV.
The risk of being placed at the RSDL also came up repeatedly in interviews, she said.
HRMI also found that punishment often extends beyond prison time and into the personal lives of dissidents and their families.
“Expressing opinions that are not approved by the Communist Party can lead to denial of health care, housing and unemployment – not only for the dissidents themselves, but for their families. Speak up in China could – and is – destroy life,” said Matt Rains, HRMI’s lead researcher for civil and political rights.