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Politicized Trial of Rights Defender Hu Jia Guts Freedom of Expression in China

March 18, 2008


The trial of long-time HIV/AIDS activist and rights defender Hu Jia (胡佳) took place on March 18 in Beijing No. 1 Intermediate People's Court; the sentence has not yet been announced. The charge against Hu of "inciting subversion of state power" reportedly stems from his Internet articles on the human rights situation in the lead-up to the Olympics and his communication with the foreign press.

"Hu Jia's sham trial, reported to last not more than three and a half hours, is part of an ongoing pattern of politicized prosecutions that call into question the independence and fairness of the legal system," said Sharon Hom, Executive Director of Human Rights in China. "The government's deployment today of authoritarian tools of social control to maintain a climate of fear and self-censorship—a climate in which any criticism can be labeled subversive—guts freedom of expression protected in China's Constitution and under international human rights law."

The government's deployment today of authoritarian tools of social control to maintain a climate of fear and self-censorship...guts freedom of expression protected in China's Constitution and under international human rights law.
— Sharon Hom, Executive Director of HRIC

Authorities are tightly controlling access to Hu by the media, his family, and others. Reportedly, police restricted the movement of rights defense lawyer Teng Biao (滕彪) and Hu's wife Zeng Jinyan (曾金燕) to prevent them from attempting to attend the trial. Media reports state that people were turned away from the trial after being told that the case was "sensitive"; only a few people were reportedly allowed entry, including Hu's mother. Additionally, Hu Jia was indicted by the procuratorate after a very short investigation period, and, according to Hu's lawyers, the documents issued by the Public Security Bureau and the procuratorate were virtually the same, calling into question the reliability and depth of the inquiry.

Human Rights in China (HRIC) urges the international community to continue to press the Chinese authorities to release Hu Jia and other rights defenders. In the final lead-up to the Olympic Games, the Chinese government must show the world it is ready to host this important event in a way that does not tarnish the Olympic spirit. Recent crackdowns and violence in Tibet, and the ongoing crackdowns on rights defenders, are not reassuring. HRIC urges the Chinese government, while there is still time, to demonstrate its respect for human rights.


For an English translation of Teng Biao and Hu Jia's article, see:

For more information on Hu Jia, see:

Visit HRIC's Incorporating Responsibility 2008 Olympics Take Action Campaign (http://www.ir2008.org) for more information on on-going human rights issues and how you can make a difference.