Hu Jia’s sentence
Hu Jia was sentenced to three and a half years in prison and would be deprived of political rights for one year. He was convicted for writing five articles and giving two interviews.
Chinese official news source said Hu Jia was guilty for criticising the Chinese political system, and accepting interviews from foreign journalists. “Hu Jia spread malicious rumours, libel and instigation in an attempt to subvert the state’s political and socialist systems,” the Xinhua report said. The Xinhua article also described the sentence as “lenient” and claimed that Hu Jia had confessed to his crimes.
According to BBC News:
Nicholas Bequelin, of US-based Human Rights Watch, said Mr Hu’s arrest, conviction and sentence was politically motivated.
“The jailing of China’s leading human rights activist reflects a further hardening of Beijing’s stance towards dissent in the lead up to the Games,” he said.
He also criticised the International Olympic Committee, which is currently meeting in Beijing, for not speaking out about the human rights situation in China.
According to Sydney Morning Herald:
“This verdict is… a warning to any other activists in China who dare to raise human rights concerns publicly,” said Mark Allison, East Asia researcher for Amnesty International. “It also betrays promises made by Chinese officials that human rights would improve in the run-up to the Olympics.”
The US embassy spokeswoman in Beijing, Susan Stevenson, described the charge against Hu as “specious”. “We are dismayed by this verdict,” Stevenson told AFP. “In this Olympic year, we urge China to seize the opportunity to put its best face forward and take steps to improve its record on human rights and religious freedom.”
The European Union’s spokesman in Beijing, William Fingleton, said Hu should never have gone on trial and called for him to be immediately released.
In a press release issued today, Reporters Without Borders called on the European Union to freeze its dialogue on human rights with China because:
In sending this resolute individual in prison, the [Chinese] government is silencing a spokesman for the victims of repression, one who would have had the courage to talk to the thousands of foreign journalists coming to Beijing to cover the Olympics. The list of Olympic Games prisoners is getting longer while the International Olympic Committee remains desperately silent.
China lied, yet again
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao last month denied that Beijing was cracking down on dissidents ahead of the Olympics. He said, “As for the critics’ view that China is trying to increase its efforts to arrest dissidents before the Olympic Games, I think such accusations are totally unfounded. There is no such question at all.”
Either Premier Wen is very misinformed of what is happening in China, or he is lying. Hu Jia’s verdict followed shortly a jail sentence of five years handed down on Yang Chunlin, who was detained after he had collected more than 10,000 signatures for a petition titled: “We want human rights, not the Olympics”. His verdict also came as China remained under international pressure over its handling of a crackdown on more than three weeks of unrest in Tibet.
This is the start of an avalanche – a disaster that the Chinese Government has brought upon China, aided abetted and encouraged by all too many opportunistic Westerners. And this corrupt regime deserves no sympathy for the boycott that it is going to receive from the international community, for the sufferings it has so unfairly inflicted on brave and honest individuals such as Hu Jia.