Human Rights in China (HRIC) has learned from sources in China that on January 6, Shanghai-based political activist Sang Jiancheng was sentenced by the Shanghai Intermediate People’s Court to three years in prison on charges of incitement to subvert state power.
Local activists such as Li Guotao had asked to attend Sang’s retrial, but were denied admittance.
Sang Jiancheng was secretly arrested on November 10, 2002, and was formerly charged with subversion on December 18. According to the indictment papers submitted by the Shanghai Procuratorate, the alleged act of subversion was Sang’s distribution of copies of the “Open Letter to the 16th Party Congress” in Xi’an in late 2002.
Drafted by dissidents Zhao Changqing and Ouyang Yi, the open letter called for a reassessment of the 1989 democracy movement, release of all prisoners of conscience, and expanding the scope of democratic elections. Ultimately signed by 192 opposition activists, it constituted the most significant political act by China’s political dissidents in recent years. After the letter was made public, many of its signatories were arrested, and several, including Zhao Changqing, Dai Xuezhong, He Depu and Jiang Lijun, have already been sentenced to lengthy prison terms. Ouyang Yi is currently awaiting a verdict on his recent trial.
“There was nothing remotely subversive in this open letter, with its entirely reasonable political demands,” said HRIC president Liu Qing. “The imprisonment of yet another signatory shows that the Hu Jintao-Wen Jiabao government is continuing the previous government’s hard line against the most basic political aspirations of the Chinese people.”
HRIC deplores the conviction and imprisonment of Sang Jiancheng, and calls for the immediate release of Sang and all other jailed and detained signatories of the open letter.