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China rights activist sentenced to 5 years for subversion

[JURIST] A Chinese court sentenced land rights activist Yang Chunlin [Amnesty profile] to five years in prison Monday on charges of "inciting subversion of state power" [JURIST report] for circulating a petition declaring "we want human rights, not the Olympics," which was signed by over 10,000 people before Yang was arrested in July 2007. The Beijing Olympics [official website] are scheduled to begin in August 2008. A Chinese human rights group reported that police used electric batons to restrain Yang as he attempted to communicate with family members after the sentencing hearing. Yang, a former factory worker, is also known for his support of a legal case brought against the government by more than 40,000 local farmers who say that their land was taken by the government without compensation. AP has more.

In August 2007, Human Rights Watch reported that China, fearing that activists will embarrass the ruling Communist party by highlighting political and social problems during the Games, is clamping down on human rights activists [press release; JURIST report] and other political dissidents as well as silencing independent media coverage. Rights group Dui Hua [advocacy website] reported in November 2007 that the number of political arrests in China more than doubled in 2006 [JURIST report].

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