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China Puts Four More Anti-Graft Activists on Trial

Zhang Xuezhong, a lawyer for Chinese dissident Zhao Changqing, argues with plain-clothed policemen as he refuses to show them his identification card in Beijing

Beijing – Four more Chinese activists went on trial on Monday, accused of disturbing public order after urging officials to reveal their assets, the latest in a string of closely watched prosecutions of anti-graft campaigners. The trials of members of the “New Citizens’ Movement” have sparked criticism from the West and rights groups, as evidence of the ruling Chinese Communist Party’s determination to crush any challenge to its rule.

The government has waged a 10-month drive against the movement, founded by XuZhiyong, one of China’s most prominent rights activists, who was jailed on Sunday for four years. The four activists put on trial on Monday — Ding Jiaxi, Li Wei, Zhang Baocheng and Yuan Dong — advocated working within the system to press for change, including urging officials to publish details of assets.

They were charged with “gathering a crowd to disturb public order”, which carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison. “These individuals, and their prosecution, are part of a pattern of arrests and detentions of public interest lawyers, Internet activists, journalists, religious leaders and others who challenge official Chinese policies and actions,” said U.S. diplomat Daniel Delk.

Delk, a second secretary at the U.S. embassy, urged China to release the protesters immediately, lift curbs on their freedom of movement, and guarantee them the protection and freedoms ensured by the country’s international human rights commitments.

Police accuse the activists of planning, organizing, and carrying out nearly 30 instances of “street political activities”, from displaying banners to making speeches urging revelation of assets, according to a copy of Li’s arrest notice. Ding, a lawyer based in Beijing, the capital, was in charge of “organizing and overall coordination” of the movement, while Li, who is unemployed, was “responsible for the collection of information and dissemination of labor”, the notice said. (Reuters)

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