On September 1, 2009, Hunan Democracy Party member Xie Changfa was sentenced to thirteen years’ imprisonment and five years’ deprivation of political rights by the Changsha Municipal Intermediate Court for the crime of “subversion of state power.” This is one of the most severe sentences of a dissident in several years. Xie Changfa’s brother Xie Changzhen and six friends were in attendance for the court’s announcement of the decision.
According to Xie Changzhen, Xie Changfa was handcuffed for 30 minutes during the announcement of the decision. He did not have the opportunity to speak and looked haggard. Xie Changzhen told Human Rights in China (HRIC) that he will file an appeal on his brother’s behalf. Xie Changfa’s lawyer said that the court’s decision today violates the law; organizing a political party or assembly is a right protected under China’s Constitution.
The court decision stated that Xie Changfa illegally set up the China Democracy Party (CDP), and compiled and wrote articles with the intent to disseminate them in order to overturn state power and the socialist system. According to the decision, these crimes constitute “illegally setting up a party in the long term,” “soliciting and inciting others to attack, denigrate, and overturn state power and the socialist system,” and not only “incitement” but also the “subversion of state power.” The latter crime carries a heavier sentence.
Xie Changfa, who is 57, was detained by Changsha public security authorities in June 2008 for establishing the Hunan Preparatory Committee of the Chinese Democracy Party, drafting the Chinese Democracy Party Manifesto and other documents, and planning and preparing the first convention of representatives of the Chinese Democracy Party from all over the country. In July 2008, he was formally arrested for “suspicion of subversion of state power.” On April 28, 2009, his case was opened in Changsha Intermediate Court.
HRIC calls on the international community to pay close attention to such cases, in which severe criminal sanctions are imposed on individuals exercising fundamental rights and freedoms protected by Chinese and international law. This is yet another case of the Chinese authorities trampling on rights protected under the Chinese Constitution. HRIC urges relevant authorities to carefully review this case and take corrective action.