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Advancing a peaceful transition to democracy in China through truth, understanding, citizen power, & cooperative action

Liu Xianbin Sentenced to 10 Years in Prison

Liu Xianbin, a noted Chinese political activist from Sichuan Province, was sentenced to 10 years in prison on March 25, 2011.  After a 2 ½ hour trial, the Suining Intermediate People’s Court convicted Liu of inciting subversion of state power.  During the Court proceedings, a total of 21 trial audits were offered. 19 of them were appointed by the authorities, while only 2 on Liu’s behalf were allowed – one from his wife and one from his brother.  Liu himself was given almost no opportunity to speak during the trial – his draft defense statement was confiscated beforehand, and he was not allowed to make a final statement.  At most, he was allowed to answer yes or no questions from the trial attorneys.

Background:  An avid democracy advocate since his university days, Liu Xianbin is no stranger to the Chinese justice system.  In 1989 he was a student participant in the Tiananmen Democracy Movement.  Watched closely by authorities because of his participation, he was arrested in 1991 and sent to prison for 2 and half years.  After his release in October 1993, Liu continued to advocate for democratic change in China – writing, speaking out, and participating in democracy movement activities.  In 1999 he was arrested again after he co-established the China Democratic Party.  He was sentenced to 13 years, and released in 2008 after spending over 9 years at Chuandong Prison.

After his second release, Liu Xiabin continued his political activism.  In December 2008, he co-signed Charter 08 along with his colleague, the future Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo.  He wrote articles for overseas publications Beijing Spring, China eWeekly (Yibao), Democratic China, People and Human Rights, and China Human Rights Semiweekly.  On June 28, 2010, Liu Xianbin was arrested again for the third time.

Chinese political activists believe that the harsh sentence given to Liu Xianbin is consequence of the difficulty the Chinese Communist Party has had in dealing with recent Jasmine Revolution protests, as well as its continued anger at the award of the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize laureate to the imprisoned democracy advocate Liu Xiaobo.

What Can We Do? Immediately after Liu Xianbin’s 3rd arrest, Yang Jianli, President of Initiatives for China, a democracy movement based in Boston, announced the I Am Liu Xianbin campaign.  The campaign is aimed at personalizing the ongoing tragedy of imprisonment and intimidation of China’s best and brightest citizens by the Chinese government.  “I was so angry when I heard he was arrested again,” said Yang, “that I wrote the words ‘I Am Liu Xianbin’ in Chinese and English on my shirt for all to see.”  The idea has caught on, and I Am Liu Xianbin is now international in scope.  A series of hunger strike relays is also being held continuously in Liu’s honor – it is a relay that takes 2 people per 24 hours, and passes from person to person.  For more information, or to join the I Am Liu Xianbin campaign, please see Initiatives for China’s Adopt-A-Prison Program.  Your time and efforts in this cause are most gratefully accepted on behalf of Liu Xianbin, Liu Xiaobo, and all those who advocate for democratic change in China.

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