Guangdong rights activist finally pleads guilty, after earlier defiance
Meng Han, last of four colleagues to be tried, sentenced to jail after others received reprieves
Meng Han, the last of four prominent Guangdong labour rights activists arrested in December, stood trial on Thursday and has been sentenced to 21 months in jail for disturbing social order, according to his lawyer Yan Xin.
The trial was held at a public security base in Panyu district, Guangzhou and came after three of Meng’s colleagues from the Guangdong Panyu Migrant Centre pled guilty in the same court in September.
Centre director Zeng Feiyang was sentenced to a three-year jail term, suspended for four years. Zhu Xiaomei and Tang Huanxing, who are also centre members, were each given 18-month jail sentences, suspended for two years.
Meng was tried separately as he had refused to confess as of September even though his parents were attacked by armed thugs in Zhongshan who vandalised their door and forced them to relocate to another city.
During Thursday’s trial, Meng relented and pleaded guilty to “gathering a crowd to disturb social order”, ending his year-long incarceration in a local detention centre, his lawyer said.
“I respect his decision and understand fully the pressure he is facing,” Yan said.
Meng’s long-term girlfriend, who declined to be identified, told the South China Morning Post that she was escorted to the trial by police early on Thursday morning and was not released until late afternoon. She refused to elaborate due to surveillance pressure but said Meng’s confessed because he was concerned for his family’s safety.
Meng and other labour rights activists were arrested in December in a massive crackdown that targeted worker’s rights activists in Guangdong, in one of the biggest blows authorities have struck against the labour rights movement on the mainland.
Meng had denied all the charges against him since his arrest last year, and refused to denounce other colleagues for committing similar offences.