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Internet Dissident Sentenced to 2 Years in Prison

March 23, 2004

Human Rights in China (HRIC) has learned that Internet dissident Ouyang Yi was sentenced to two years in prison on charges of “incitement to subvert state power.”

Ouyang was tried in secret at the Chengdu Intermediate People’s Court on March 16 without any prior notice given to his family or even to his lawyer, who was unable to represent him in court. According to sources in China, the evidence presented against Ouyang was a copy of the “Open Letter to the 16th Party Congress” disseminated through the Internet. However, Ouyang and his lawyer had previously entered the defense that this was not the document drafted by Ouyang, but had been subsequently amended by others, and therefore should not be entered as evidence against Ouyang.

Ouyang was the original drafter of the Open Letter issued in mid-November 2002, which called for progress in China’s democratization and human rights, and which after finalization was ultimately signed by 192 dissidents. Other signatories were also arrested and eventually convicted, including Zhao Changqing, Dai Xuezhong and He Depu.

Ouyang Yi has been an active Internet dissident for some time, publishing a large quantity of mildly phrased political articles. He was also a member of the China Democracy Party in Sichuan, and prior to his arrest was a teacher in the city of Suining. Ouyang was first detained on December 5, 2002, since which time he has been held at the Chengdu Municipal Detention Center.

“The conviction of Ouyang Yi is doubly objectionable,” said HRIC president Liu Qing. “The Open Letter to the 16th Party Congress was in itself a completely innocuous document calling for the most basic civil and political rights. In any case, the Open Letter as issued was not the document that Ouyang himself drafted, and should never have been presented as evidence against him.” HRIC calls for the Chinese courts to render this judgment null and void and allow Ouyang Yi a public retrial.