Human Rights in China condemns the denial of Hangzhou-based writer Lü Gengsong's appeal of a four-year prison sentence handed down on the basis of essays he had posted online.
"The denial of Lü Gengsong's appeal clearly confirms the hard line towards free expression maintained by the Chinese authorities in recent months," said Human Rights in China Executive Director Sharon Hom. "The convictions and sentences for writers and activists such as Lü, Hu Jia, and Yang Chunlin, are completely contrary to the stated official Chinese goal of creating a harmonious and open environment to host the Olympics."
Lü's original verdict was upheld, and his request for a new trial denied, on April 14 by the Higher People's Court in Zhejiang Province. Found guilty of "inciting subversion of state power," he was sentenced on February 5, 2008, to four years in prison and a subsequent year’s deprivation of his political rights.
Lü taught at a special training school for public security officers until 1993, when he was dismissed because of his activities in support of democratic reform. In recent years he has supported himself as a freelance writer. He published a book, Corruption in the Communist Party of China, in 2000, as well as a number of articles on corruption, organized crime and related topics. He has also been involved in rights defense activities such as reporting on the sentencing of Hangzhou eviction protester Yang Yunbiao. Family members have issued appeals to the central government on Lü's behalf, saying that his health is deteriorating in prison.
Human Rights in China calls on the Chinese authorities to take concrete and immediate steps towards implementing freedom of expression in China. These immediate steps should include releasing all individuals imprisoned solely for exercising their right to free speech, or, at a minimum, affording them new trials that meet Chinese and international standards for fairness.
For more information on Lü Gengsong, see:
End Illegal Detention
Five individuals featured in Human Rights in China's Take Action Olympics Campaign have been determined by the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention to have been placed in detention arbitrarily. This international independent body has declared that Chen Guangcheng, Shi Tao, Yao Fuxin, Hu Shigen, and Li Chang are in detention arbitrarily, yet all remain in prison. HRIC calls on the Chinese government to immediately release these five individuals and all others declared to be in detention arbitrarily.
The Working Group on Arbitrary Detention is a "Special Procedure" of the Human Rights Council, the main human rights body at the UN. It investigates cases of arbitrary deprivation of liberty around the world, and acts on information submitted by governments, international bodies, NGOs, and individuals. In its China cases, the Working Group has examined issues related to the lack of an independent judiciary and imprisonment on the basis of exercising freedom of expression. The Working Group has visited China twice (in 1997 and 2004), where it met with government officials, lawyers, judges, prison officials, and prisoners. Although it has made many recommendations, few have been implemented.