Liu Zhengyou (刘正有), a land rights activist who served two years in a prison in Zigong, Sichuan Province, was released today. He was greeted by 80 rights defenders who came from Chengdu, including Chen Yufei (陈云飞). Liu was arrested in 2009 after he participated in an investigation of the children injured and killed in the 2008 Sichuan earthquake. He was later convicted of “fraud.”
Liu said that prison enriched his life, that he used the time to study law and feel that he has earned the equivalent of a master’s degree from Peking University and Tsinghua University. He added that, as a professional rights defender, he will stay firmly on his path and strive to contribute to the welfare of the people.
In early 2000, in the course of land requisition by the Zigong government, Liu’s three-story family home was forcibly demolished and all his possessions were removed. As he sought justice for himself, Liu became involved in activities to defend the rights of people from the lower rungs of society. In 2003, he was named one of China’s top ten rights defenders by China Newsweek, a state controlled publication. He was also a joint recipient of the 2006 Housing Rights Defender Award from the Geneva-based Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions.
On December 7, 2009, Liu and his fiancée Hu Yulan (胡玉兰) were arrested by the Zigong Municipal Public Security Bureau on suspicion of fraud. On August 20, 2010, Liu was sentenced to two years in prison and fined 2,000 yuan by the Ziliuggang District Court of Zigong. Hu Yulan was sentenced to one-and-a-half years in prison with two years’ suspension and fined 1,000 yuan, and was released after the verdict was announced.
Liu Zhengyou has maintained his innocence, stating that he was framed by the authorities because of his rights defense work. Before his trial, he went on hunger strike in protest of his protracted detention.
For more information on Liu Zhengyou, see: