Internet activist Du Daobin freed but deprived of political rights for 2 years

PUBLISHED : Friday, 10 December, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 10 December, 2010, 12:00am

Prominent writer and internet activist Du Daobin was released from a Hubei prison yesterday after serving a three-year sentence for 'inciting subversion of state power'.

But Human Rights in China says Du was ordered to remain silent after being deprived of his political rights for two years, prohibiting him from voting, accepting interviews, making speeches or publishing.

The rights group said Du arrived home after serving his term in Hanxi Prison in Wuhan, Hubei , but he and his family declined to speak publicly because they fear repercussions.

Dissident lawyer Li Fangping said 'deprivation of political rights' should not include curbs on freedom of speech and publication.

'None of our legal rules says that someone can't speak to the public or media when deprived of his political rights,' Li said. 'I think Du and his family's silence is due to political reasons.'

Du was the first person on the mainland to openly criticise former president Jiang Zemin's 'Theory of the Three Represents', which welcomed business chiefs into the Communist Party. His sympathies for the banned Falun Gong spiritual movement and his criticism of the agricultural tax were also used as evidence that he incited subversion of state power.

The conviction against him was based on 26 essays he wrote and published on the Net, including 'Jiang Zemin's Worthless July 1 Speech'.

'Stripped of the right to publish or speak publicly for two years, freedom for Du is in fact an extended prison term in disguise,' Human Rights in China's executive director Sharon Hom said.

Guangxi-based human rights lawyer Yang Zaixin said Du was barred from speaking in public and publishing to curb his influence. 'Du is very popular and has become a hero now. What he said after his release would have a great impact on the public, which might harm our government's image,' Yang said.

Du was detained in October 2003 and his home and computer were searched. He was sentenced to three years' imprisonment, plus two years of deprivation of political rights in June 2004. His final appeal was rejected on August 3, 2004. The prison term was initially suspended for four years, similar to placing him on probation.

However, on July 21, 2008, just before the expiration of the four-year suspension period, the authorities took Du into custody again. They rescinded his suspended sentence, citing serious violations, and imprisoned him.