Beijing, Jun 23 (EFE).- The lawyers Xu Zhiyong and Ding Jiaxi face trial Wednesday and Thursday for “subverting the power of the State,” according to rights organization Amnesty International.
Ding and Xu are members of the New Citizens movement, a network of activists founded in 2012 in favor of government transparency and against corruption in the country.
According to Amnesty, the two jurists attended a meeting in the southeastern city of Xiamen in December 2019 to discuss the situation of civil society in China, after which many of their attendees were detained or investigated by authorities.
In early February 2020, Xu Zhiyong criticized Chinese President Xi Jinping’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic and anti-government protests in Hong Kong the previous year in a letter.
That same month, Xu was arrested and placed under “monitoring at a designated location” until January 2021, during which time he allegedly suffered ill-treatment including lengthy interrogations and being held in a so-called “tiger chair” that keeps limbs immobile, Amnesty said.
Ding was arrested in December 2019 and held incommunicado for more than a year, during which he claims to have suffered similar abuses, according to Amnesty.
Shortly after authorities concluded their investigations in January 2021, Ding and Xu were charged with the crime of subversion against the state.
Both lawyers have already spent between three and four years in prison in the last decade for crimes related to disorderly conduct.
“The Chinese government systematically uses national security charges with very vague provisions, such as ‘subverting state power,’ to unfairly prosecute lawyers, intellectuals, journalists and human rights activists,” said Amnesty International activist Gwen Read.
Amnesty’s annual report, released in March, said “the human rights situation across China continued to worsen” over the previous year, citing as examples the persecution of Muslim ethnic minorities and human rights activists rights and restrictions on freedom of expression. EFE