June 4th protests

Activist jailed 18 months for June 4 protest bid

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 25 March, 2014, 4:09am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 25 March, 2014, 4:09am

A Jiangsu court has sentenced a man to 18 months in jail for applying to hold a protest on the anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown, his lawyer said.

Gu Yimin was found guilty of "inciting state subversion" for posting pictures of the 1989 crackdown online and applying for permission to stage a protest on its anniversary last year, his lawyer Liu Weiguo said.

"This judgment violates the constitution," Liu said, adding that Gu, 36, would appeal against the verdict handed down by a court in Changshu . "We maintain that Gu Yimin was exercising his right to freedom of speech."

Liu said that men he believed to be state security officers had attacked him and another lawyer outside the courthouse.

Hundreds of protesters - by some estimates, thousands - were killed in 1989 when the People's Liberation Army cracked down on the student democracy movement in Tiananmen Square in Beijing, the symbolic heart of the state.

The governing Communist Party tightly censors public discussion of the crackdown.

Gu applied to the local authorities to hold a small-scale protest on June 4 last year, the 24th anniversary of the event, his wife Xu Yan had said previously.

He stood trial in September and denied the charges, Liu said, adding that Gu had called off his protest when the authorities warned him not to go ahead.

"There is nothing illegal about posting a photograph of a genuine incident," Liu said. "If his activities caused damage to the party, that's not the same as damaging the state."

Charges of incitement to state subversion have previously been used to imprison political dissidents.

Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo was sentenced to 11 years in jail for the crime in 2009 after circulating a petition calling for political reforms including democratic elections.

Gu's punishment was much stiffer than the 15 days of administrative detention that activist Li Weiguo served last year for filing a similar request to hold a June 4 vigil in Guangzhou.

A Haizhou district court in January dismissed his request to have his punishment overturned.

Li, who took part in local pro-democracy demonstrations in 1989, is a Hong Kong resident.


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