Skip to content Skip to navigation

Liu Xiaobo’s Guilty Verdict and 11-Year Sentence Send Message of Zero Tolerance for Universal Human Rights

December 25, 2009

In one of the most high-profile political trials in China in recent years, a Beijing court today found Liu Xiaobo (刘晓波) guilty of “inciting subversion of state power” and sentenced him to 11 years of imprisonment and two years’ deprivation of political rights.  Liu’s lawyers told Human Rights in China (HRIC) they do not agree with the decision, stating that Liu was merely exercising his right as a citizen to freedom of expression. According to his lawyers and family, Liu plans to appeal.  

“The guilty verdict demonstrates once again the Chinese authorities’ intolerance for free expression and their incapacity to respond constructively to critical voices,” said Sharon Hom, HRIC’s executive director. “But the Chinese government must recognize that the free pass on human rights that it has been receiving from the international community will not insulate it forever from the growing demands of its own people for freedom and democratic reforms.”

“By using the police and security apparatus and the legal system to violate the rights of its citizens, the Chinese government may find itself, in time, subverting its own state power,” said Hom.

The conviction and sentence were pronounced by judge Jia Lianchun (贾连春) of the Beijing Municipal No. 1 Intermediate People’s Court (北京市第一中级人民法院), who previously convicted and sentenced rights defense lawyer Gao Zhisheng (高智晟) and AIDS activist Hu Jia (胡佳) on similar charges. The government based the conviction on Liu’s role in drafting and organizing the signing of Charter 08, a petition issued in December 2008 calling for human rights protection and political reform, and on six essays Liu published between 2005 and 2007 critical of the Chinese government. (Click here for excerpts selected and translated by Human Rights in China.)

Liu, 53, was detained, imprisoned, and put under house arrest many times for his writing and activism, including a 20-month detention (June 1989 to January 1991) for participating in the 1989 Democracy Movement, and a three-year Reeducation-Through-Labor sentence (October 1996 to October 1999) for criticizing government corruption. Liu continued to write essays about the human rights condition in China and to advocate for political reform up until his most recent detention on December 8, 2008, one day before the release of Charter 08. In the weeks before Liu’s trial, more than 450 co-signatories of Charter 08 signed an online petition accepting collective responsibility.

HRIC urges the Chinese authorities to free Liu Xiaobo immediately and unconditionally, and to respect the rights guaranteed by Chinese law and international human rights law. At this critical juncture, HRIC also urges the international community to stop giving China free passes on human rights in exchange for perceived benefits. The failure of the Chinese government to fully abide by its international obligations has serious human rights consequences for all the citizens of the world.

For more information about the Liu Xiaobo and Charter 08 see:

 

Explore Topics

709 Crackdown Access to Information Access to Justice Administrative Detention All about law Arbitrary Detention
Asset Transparency Bilateral Dialogue Black Jail Book Review Business And Human Rights Censorship
Charter 08 Children Chinese Law Circumvention technology Citizen Activism Citizen Journalists
Citizen Participation Civil Society Commentary Communist Party Of China Constitution Consumer Safety
Contending views Corruption Counterterrorism Courageous Voices Cultural Revolution Culture Matters
Current affairs Cyber Security Daily Challenges Democratic And Political Reform Demolition And Relocation  Dissidents
Education Elections Enforced Disappearance Environment Ethnic Minorities EU-China
Family Planning Farmers Freedom of Association Freedom of Expression Freedom of Press Freedom of Religion
Government Accountability Government regulation Government transparency Hong Kong House Arrest HRIC Translation
Hukou Human Rights Council Human rights developments Illegal Search And Detention Inciting Subversion Of State Power Information Control 
Information technology Information, Communications, Technology (ICT) International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) International Human Rights International perspective International Relations
Internet Internet Governance JIansanjiang lawyers' rights defense Judicial Reform June Fourth Kidnapping
Labor Camps Labor Rights Land, Property, Housing Lawyer's rights Lawyers Legal System
Letters from the Mainland Major Event (Environment, Food Safety, Accident, etc.) Mao Zedong Microblogs (Weibo) National People's Congress (NPC) New Citizens Movement
Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) Olympics One country, two systems Online Activism Open Government Information Personal stories
Police Brutality Political commentary Political Prisoner Politics Prisoner Of Conscience Probing history
Propaganda Protests And Petitions Public Appeal Public Security Racial Discrimination Reeducation-Through-Labor
Rights Defenders Rights Defense Rule Of Law Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Special Topic State compensation
State Secrets State Security Subversion Of State Power Surveillance Technology Thoughts/Theories
Tiananmen Mothers Tibet Torture Typical cases United Nations US-China 
Uyghurs, Uighurs Vulnerable Groups Women Youth Youth Perspective