BEIJING – Veteran Chinese democracy activist and human rights defender Qin Yongmin was handed 13 years in prison for subversion of state power and deprived of his political rights for three years, a court in china said on Wednesday.
The Wuhan City Intermediate People’s Court in Hubei province found Qin guilty of “subversion of state power,” a charge frequently leveled against Chinese dissidents, in a trial that the Chinese Human Rights Defenders organization (CHRD) described as “unfair.”
The verdict against Qin, 64, comes a day after Chinese civil society, human rights organizations and the international community welcomed the release of Liu Xia, poet and widow of Nobel Peace laureate Liu Xiaobo, after eight years of house arrest without charge.
“It is really shocking to see such a heavy sentence against a veteran activist who simply exercised his freedom of expression after seeing some hope in the case of Liu Xia,” Amnesty International researcher Patrick Poon told EFE.
“It reminds us that we shouldn’t forget the lesser-known activists who face harsh sentences,” he added.
Qin was one of the founders of the Chinese Democratic Party, banned by the communist regime soon after it was created, and throughout his struggle in the defense of human rights, he has spent a total of 22 years in prison or partial deprivation of his right to freedom.
In 2015, he was arrested over “inciting subversion of state power” after writing texts on democracy and activism, and until 2017 he did not have access to a lawyer, according to CHRD.
He was also imprisoned between 1981-1989, and he completed two years of “re-education” from 1993-1995 in a labor camp after being a main drafter of a “Peace Charter” demanding redress for victims of the 1989 Tiananmen Massacre and the release of political prisoners.
In 1979, he participated in pro-democracy movements in his city Wuhan, and edited and published “The Bell” journal to promote democracy. He is considered one of the most veteran activists in the country.