Three anti-corruption activists who campaigned for government transparency were handed out jail sentences on Thursday on charges which rights groups called “preposterous” and said revealed Beijing’s increasing resolve to crackdown on dissent.
A number of activists and lawyers, some of whom have called for government officials to declare their wealth, have been jailed in recent months even as President Xi Jinping carries out his much-publicised campaign to weed out graft. Some of those detained were members of a network of activists called the New Citizens’ Movement.
On Thursday, Liu Ping and Wei Zhongping were sentenced to six and a half years imprisonment while Li Sihua was sentenced to three years in prison by a local court. Charges against them range from illegal assembly, picking quarrels, creating disturbance and gathering a crowd to disturb public order. “The charges against these activists were preposterous from the very beginning. Having a small private gathering and holding a banner in a lobby entrance demanding financial transparency from officials should not in any way constitute picking quarrels and illegal assembly,” William Nee, Amnesty International China Researcher said.