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China jails critic for seeking justice, democratic reforms

Lu Huihuang has been held guilty of 'incitement to subvert state power' and sentenced to a four-and-a-half-year jail term

Chinese activist Lu Huihuang who advocated for democratic reforms has been sentenced to jail

Chinese activist Lu Huihuang who advocated for democratic reforms has been sentenced to jail. (Photo: Weiquanwang/RFA)

Published: November 26, 2022 05:08 AM GMT

A court in China has jailed an activist on a charge of subversion for drawing attention to the inhuman treatment of a female activist on social media and supporting democratic reforms in the country.  

Lu Huihuang, a prominent government critic was sentenced to a four-and-a-half-year jail term after Guigang Municipal People's Court found him guilty of "incitement to subvert state power,” Radio Free Asia (RFA) reported on Nov. 23, citing a Chinese human rights group.

Lu reportedly came under the ire of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) for his demands for an investigation into a case of a chained unnamed female activist that sparked a social media storm.

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"It's thought that Lu Huihuang's secret detention was linked to the case of the chained woman because he published too many posts about it on his group chats," said Lin Shengliang, an activist, RFA reported.

He said that the harsh sentence handed down to him was based on other “baseless allegations” brought by the state prosecutors working under the CCP.

Police detained Huihuang from his home in Nanning city on Feb. 18, 2022, and he was in custody since then.

The details related to his case have not been made public as he was charged under the sweeping 'incitement to subvert state power’ which involves closed-door trials and confidentiality of all information.

Lu has reportedly refused to accept the judgment and decided to appeal against his conviction.

Activist Lin said the jailed activist’s parents are under police surveillance and anyone who attempts to visit them is “immediately taken away by local police and village officials.”

He also added that Huihuang could not get the legal representation that he desired and that there was a lack of transparency about the entire process from arrest to conviction.

"Lu [had] asked a prison guard to get a message to me asking me to help him find an attorney, but the local state security police didn't allow us to mail the instruction letter to [him] so he could sign it," Lin said.

"We don't know what is happening with him, how legal the investigation, prosecution or trial was, nor whether he was tortured," he added.

Earlier RPN had reported that Lu had written open letters to the Chinese authorities in 2013, 2016, and 2018 “suggesting that the CCP carry out democratic and constitutional reforms as soon as possible.”

Later in September 2018, Lu was arrested for the charges of "picking quarrels and provoking trouble" after the police noticed his content being spread on QQ groups, WeChat groups, and through email campaigns.

The vaguely defined charge is commonly used by Chinese officials against journalists, activists, and lawyers as well as ordinary citizens to muzzle dissent and free speech.

Lu was convicted in April 2020 for the charges leveled against him and was released in January 2021 after serving his sentence.

Lin stated that the bureaucratic and judicial environment in China had entered a new era of authoritarian rule.

"Under the new authoritarianism, the government uses a powerful state machine to crush dissidents. As the social and political environment continues to deteriorate, the crime of inciting subversion of state power will be more widely and freely used by China’s powerful agencies,” he added.

Earlier in December 2021, the Chinese court in Guangxi handed down a three-year jail term for outspoken rights lawyer and prominent government critic Chen Jiahong on charges of “subversion” amid fears for his safety in detention.

Chen had put up a handwritten slogan "set up an assassination detail, liquidate this evil bureaucracy and promote democracy" on China’s extremely controlled and monitored social media channels.

In November 2021, Nanning municipal police detained lawyer Qin Yongpei during a raid on his Baijuying legal consultancy company, after he accused police and local judicial officials of misconduct and injustice.

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