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China 17 March 2006

Ten years in prison for online anti-government articles

Reporters Without Borders condemned a ten-year prison sentence handed down to Ren Zhiyuan, 27, for posting virulent anti-government articles online, including a tract entitled, “The path to democracy”.

The press freedom organisation called for Ren’s immediate release, attacking the authorities’ hounding of opposition figures who express their views online.

Ren Zhiyuan was arrested on 10 May 2005 and then tried on 30 September 2005 by the intermediate court in Jining, eastern China, for “subversion of state power”. However the verdict was only made public on 17 March 2006. The cyberdissident’s lawyer said he would appeal the decision.

According to the US-based Human Rights in China, Ren, a secondary school teacher in the eastern province of Shandong, was charged with posting several articles deemed subversive, including “The Path to Democracy” in which he asserted the right to resort to violence to overthrow tyranny.

“These comments come under the heading of freedom of expression and we consider that you cannot condemn someone simply on the basis of their statements,” said Reporters Without Borders.

The Communist Party Manifesto, written in 1848 by Marx and Engels, and on which the Chinese Communist Party’s ideology is still based today itself ends with these words: ‘The Communists disdain to conceal their views and aims. They openly declare that their ends can be attained only by the forcible overthrow of all existing social conditions.’ Ren Zhiyuan was also sentenced for attempting to create a political opposition movement known as ”Mainland Democracy Frontline”, recruiting members on the Internet.

He was also arrested at the end of April 2005 during a journey he was making through various Chinese provinces to meet dissidents whom he had contacted through the Internet, according to a statement from his father, Ren Rusheng.

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