Chinese authorities Monday sentenced two of the country’s most prominent human rights activists to prison for the crime of “subversion of state power.” Xu Zhiyong and Ding Jiaxi were sentenced in a court in Shandong province to 14 years and 12 years in prison, respectively.
Senior China researcher at Human Rights Watch Yaqiu Wang called on international governments to remand the release of the two activists “immediately and unconditionally.”
Both men have been key spokesmen of fair democracy in China. Frontline Defenders reported Ding’s detention in 2022. According to the organization, Ding was permitted three video calls during his detention. During these calls, he informed his lawyer of the facility’s poor sanitation conditions and low quality food. Ding’s wife reported that he suffered sleep deprivation, torture and violent interrogations.
According to Amnesty International, Xu was detained at the same time and he similarly subjected to torture and ill treatment after he attended an informal gathering with dozens of other activists and lawyers. Xu was one of the founders of NGO the Open Constitution Initiative, an initiative which consisted of rule of law and constitutional protection advocacy.
Amnesty International Deputy Regional Director Hana Young stated, “The government’s policies and practices under [President Xi Jinping’s] leadership pose a threat to rights not just at home but globally.” Young demanded, “the international community must redouble efforts to ensure the next five years are different. There can be no excuse for failing to hold the Chinese authorities to account over atrocities committed in President Xi’s name.”