Chinese human rights lawyer Pu Zhiqiang faces up to 8 years jail for ‘inciting ethnic hatred’
May 15, Beijing: A veteran Chinese human rights lawyer known for pushing for the abolishment of labor camps has been indicted for ‘inciting ethical hatred’ and “picking quarrels and provoking trouble” faces up to eight years in jail, ABC reported.
Pu Zhiqiang, who is also famous for defending artists like Ai Weiwei, was taken away by police in Beijing shortly before last year’s anniversary of the Tiananmen Square crackdown.
A posting on the official micro blog of the Beijing People Procuratorate’s second branch said Pu’s crime was “serious” because he repeatedly posted messages on his micro blog account to “incite ethnic hatred” and “openly insult others”. His acts “damaged social order” and he “should be held criminally responsible”
According to south China Morning Post, On Friday, his lawyer Shang Baojun said he was pleased that those charges had been dismissed, but said “he shouldn’t be indicted with a single charge”.
But he noted that Pu still faces a maximum jail sentence of eight years with the current two charges.
“He was incriminated for the opinions he expressed, just because he posted about 30 micro blog messages – I don’t think this is acceptable,” Shang said.
Shang said Pu’s opinions should be within the parameters of free speech and should be protected by the constitution.
Shang earlier said Pu’s micro blog messages from 12 Weibo accounts between 2011 and last year were used to indict him. His commentaries were mostly sarcastic criticisms of the Communist Party and its policies towards ethnic minorities and neighboring countries.
Human rights advocates say Pu’s arrest is aimed at silencing him and is part of the wider crackdown on rights lawyers, activists and civil society under President Xi Jinping’s ideological campaign.
William Nee, China Researcher at Amnesty International, said charges against Pu were “an act political persecution” and the chances of him receiving a fair trial were “close to zero”.
Pu has represented many government critics in high-profile rights cases, including artist Ai Weiwei.
“With this prosecution, the authorities are sending a warning to all lawyers that take up ‘sensitive’ cases: “fall in line or we’ll go after you”. This harassment of those that defend the rights of ordinary citizens must end,” said Nee. The Oslo Times