Sign up for weekly updates

Several journalists receive harsh sentences one year after Liu Xiaobo's trial

(RSF/IFEX) - On 25 December 2009 a Beijing court handed down a jail sentence of 11 years to Liu Xiaobo. The Chinese authorities thus sent a very tough Christmas Day message to the international community which had pleaded for him. At the end of a travesty of a trial from which his wife, his supporters, the foreign press and diplomats were banned, China's most renowned prisoner of opinion was found guilty of "subversion of state power". Since then, and despite the dissident being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, the authorities continue to view him as a "criminal".

We call on the authorities in Beijing to reopen Liu Xiaobo's legal file to allow a review of his trial for "subversion of state power". We urge President Hu Jintao, ahead of his visit to the United States in January 2011, to do everything possible to secure the release of Liu Xiaobo and his supporters, including his wife Liu Xia, who is currently under house arrest in Beijing.

Meanwhile in Xinjiang and Tibet, judges continue to hand down very harsh prison sentences to journalists for what they write.

We have just learned that Memetjan Abdulla, a journalist working for the Uyghur service of Chinese national radio and manager of the Uyghur website Salkin, was sentenced to life imprisonment in April 2010 for translating and posting articles on the plight of Uyghurs in the country. Gulmire Imin, a young woman also working for the website, was given the same sentence for "revealing state secrets", for "organising a demonstration" and for "separatism".

Radio Free Asia said this very harsh sentence, pronounced after a secret trial in Urumqi, was also intended to punish Memetjan Abdulla for answering questions from foreign journalists. The authorities also accused him of having provoked ethnic unrest in Xinjiang in July 2009, after Uyghur workers died in a factory in Shaoguan. He also reportedly translated into Uyghur and posted on Salkin an appeal by the (banned) World Uyghur Congress to demonstrate abroad against this incident.

In May, Reporters Without Borders sent an open letter to Zhang Chunxian, the new secretary of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in Xinjiang, calling for less online censorship in the country.

In Tibet, Sungrab Gyatso, a monk at the Mu-ra monastery and the editor of the Tibetan magazine "Rewa-kang-lam" (Hope in March), was found guilty of having fomented demonstrations. He was sentenced to three years in prison after a trial, on 16 December, before a court in Kanlho. The Tibetan Center for Human Rights and Democracy (based in Dharamsala, India) said this defender of Tibetan culture has been in prison since March. Reporters Without Borders calls for his release.

The organisation is also very concerned about the plight of Tashi Rabten, the editor of the Tibetan magazine "Shar Dungri", who has been secretly imprisoned since 6 April. He is reportedly being held in harsh conditions in a prison in Barkham, Ngaba region, in Sichuan province. His colleague, Druklo, was released in May.

Latest Tweet:

Local journalist Ismail Bouzreeba al-Zway detained in eastern Libya since December 20 @CPJMENA

Get more stories like this

Sign up for our newsletters and get the most important free expression news delivered to your inbox.