China: Amnesty International Calls for the Release of Prominent China Dissident Facing 'Subervsion' Trial

Press Release
March 24, 2011

China: Amnesty International Calls for the Release of Prominent China Dissident Facing 'Subervsion' Trial

Amnesty International Media Release
For Immediate Release
Thursday, March 24, 2011

Amnesty International Calls for the Release of Prominent China Dissident Facing 'Subversion' Trial

Contact: AIUSA media relations office, 202-509-8194

(Washington, D.C.) China should release a veteran democracy activist instead of putting him on trial tomorrow, Amnesty International has said. Liu Xianbin is being tried in Sichuan province for "incitement to subvert state power" over articles he wrote in 2009 that urged democratic reforms.

"Liu Xianbin is not guilty of any crime, and should never have been arrested for peacefully exercising his right to freedom of expression," said Sam Zarifi, Amnesty International’s director for the Asia-Pacific. "He is a prisoner of conscience and should be released immediately."

The 43-year-old became an activist during the 1989 student-led democracy movement, and was a founder of a local branch of the banned China Democracy Party (CDP). Liu has been denied access to lawyers for months. The charge of 'inciting subversion' could see him facing up to five years imprisonment, or longer if the court considers his crime to have been especially grave.

Arrested in June 2010, the high-profile dissident had only recently been freed from prison after serving nine years of a sentence for 'subverting state power' due to his CDP activism in the 1990s. His wife has not been allowed to see him since he was detained.

Local activists have told Amnesty International that they believe Liu was arrested again as punishment for continuing his activism after his release from prison in late 2008. Once out of prison, Liu became a public signatory to the 'Charter 08', a proposal for legal and political reform that was co-authored by Nobel Laureate Liu Xiaobo. He also was a prolific writer of online articles about democracy and human rights, which were critical of Chinese government repression.

"Liu Xianbin was brave and persistent enough to keep speaking out for human rights even after spending years in prison. China should be celebrating this kind of courage, not punishing it," said Zarifi.

Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning grassroots activist organization with more than 3 million supporters, activists and volunteers in more than 150 countries campaigning for human rights worldwide. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied.

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For more information, please visit: www.amnestyusa.org.