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China 9 July 2007

Cyber-dissident Guo Qizhen beaten in prison by inmates at behest of guards

Guo Qizhen, a cyber-dissident who was arrested on 12 May 2006 and was sentenced to four years in jail for “inciting subversion of state authority,” was beaten by fellow-inmates in his cell in Shijiazhuang prison (in the northern province of Hebei) at the behest of the prison’s guards. His wife said she found him covered with bruises when she was finally able to visit him on 18 June, after two months of being refused permission by the prison authorities.

Guo had a broken leg at the time of his arrest and has not received adequate treatment in prison. His health had deteriorated considerably.


Four-year jail sentence against cyber-dissident Guo Qizhen

Reporters Without Borders has condemned a four-year jail sentence handed down to cyber-dissident Guo Qizhen, a human rights activist, after he was found guilty of “incitement to subversion”, the eighth such conviction against a journalist or cyber-dissident this year.

Guo, 49, was sentenced on 16 October 2006 for having posted articles on foreign-based websites denouncing the government’s crackdown on fundamental freedoms.

“President Hu Jintao is following as repressive a policy against the Internet as his predecessor Jiang Zemin,” the worldwide press freedom organisation said.

“China is today fully integrated into the consultations of nations but this country does not respect the international promises it makes relating to respecting human rights and freedom of expression,” said the organisation.

Guo’s lawyer, Li Jianqiang, said that the court in Cangzhou in Hebei province, central China had also deprived his client of his political rights for three years. He added that Guo had been allowed to speak at length during the hearing and he even voiced his confidence in the court which was trying him.

His wife, Zhao Changqing, told Reuters that her husband’s conviction was illegal and that she would appeal.

Among a large number of articles critical of the government which Guo posted on foreign-based sites, was one in which he said it was time for the Chinese people to “sound the knell of this dire regime”. His arrest, on 12 May 2006, appeared to be linked to his joining a “rotating” hunger strike started by lawyer Gao Zhisheng to protest at human rights violations in China.

China is by far the world’s largest prison for journalists and cyber-dissidents, with 72 such people in its jails. Eight of them have been sentenced during 2006 to up to ten years in prison for “espionage” or “subversion”.




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2 June - China
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Mission report : A call to end violence and impunity
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Fact-finding visit by Reporters Without Borders to Swat “valley of fear”
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Pyongyang judges asked to be lenient with two American journalists
3 June - Afghanistan
US forces arrest a journalist in Khost
2 June - China
Blocking of Twitter, YouTube, Flickr and Blogger deprives Chinese of Web 2.0
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