Civil rights activist gets two years in labour camp
Civil rights activist Xiao Yong (pictured) has been sentenced to two years in a labour camp for buying stolen motorcycles.
However, his friends say authorities are using it as an excuse to silence him ahead of the 18th Communist Party congress.
Xiao yesterday called people to say he was being sent to a labour camp, according to microblog postings by several of his activist friends.
They said Xiao was being punished for buying three stolen motorbikes three years ago.
'Even though he had already returned the stolen bikes and was not prosecuted at the time, Xiao was informed by the police he would be sentenced to two years at a labour camp for owning illegal bikes,' an online posting said.
Deng Anhua, the public security chief in Shaoyang , Hunan province, had instructed the arrest, it said.
Xiao, 37, who is based in Guangzhou, hails from Hunan, the hometown of the late dissident Li Wangyang .
Li's death on June 6 triggered widespread suspicion he had been murdered after giving an interview to a Hong Kong television news crew about the June 4 Tiananmen crackdown a few days before he was found hanged in a hospital.
Li was nearly deaf and blind after suffering abuse during more than two decades in jail for organising events related to the 1989 pro-democracy protests.
Xiao had publicly criticised the government over Li's death and made calls on his microblog account for a fair investigation into Li's death.
He also showed support for other political activists online.
In April, Xiao was arrested for protesting in central Guangzhou's Tianhe district, urging political reform and publicly calling on President Hu Jintao to declare his personal assets.
He was detained for 'unlawful assembly' for nearly a month and was escorted back to Shaoyang upon his release.
Guangzhou-based rights lawyer Tang Jingling said Xiao was punished partly because of his April protest as well as his opinion on Li's death.
'But I believe the main reason for all this is to silence him ahead of the 18th party congress to be held this autumn, as part of a clampdown. They are sending out a warning to other dissidents,' Tang said.
Ye Du, a Guangzhou-based media analyst, protested against the sentence, describing it as 'downright political persecution'.