Internet users decry subversion charges over ex-teacher's blog articles

He denies subverting the state by posting articles supporting Western democracy

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 08 September, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 08 September, 2012, 3:58am

A laid-off teacher who criticised state-sanctioned political ideologies on mainland blogging sites has been charged with inciting subversion of state power, sparking outrage among netizens.

Chen Pingfu , 55, published more than 30 articles "attacking the Communist Party and government, and defaming and tarnishing the socialist system", according to state charges.

The postings on Netease, Sina and Sohu allegedly expressed inflammatory ideas that Marxism and all theories put forward by the mainland's leaders - from Mao Zedong to Hu Jintao - "do no good to society and the public".

Chen also called for Western-style democracy, according to the indictment, which was posted on Sina's popular micro- blogging site.

Chen published the articles between July 2007 and March this year.

He had been forced to earn a living playing violin on the street after losing his teaching job when his school, which had been affiliated with a state-owned enterprise, closed in 2005 when the company went bankrupt.

At his trial in Lanzhou Intermediate People's Court in Gansu , Chen pleaded not guilty, saying he had no intention to incite subversion.

He said all the articles were based on the right of freedom of expression, enshrined in the country's constitution.

Such charges can result in prison sentences of up to five years under the mainland's criminal law. No verdict has yet been returned at the trial.

Internet users have come out in support of Chen, compiling lists of his articles that are still available online, and the case has sparked concern among other bloggers that they could face similar charges.

Professor Xiao Xuehui , from the Southwest University for Nationalities in Chengdu , called for more people to support Chen.

He said: "If these articles are inciting subversion, then the trial is not for Chen alone, but for a lot of people [who publish online]."

A microblogger added: "I'm really scared after learning what Chen has been suffering for the articles he published online.

"I might be put in a similar situation one day. Everyone could become him."