Updated: March 29, 2021 03:31 AM GMT
Zhang Wuzhou was jailed by a court in southern China for holding up a placard to commemorate the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre and opposing Hong Kong’s draconian national security law. (Photo: Radio Free Asia)
A prominent human rights activist who was arrested for holding up a placard to commemorate the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre and opposing Hong Kong’s draconian national security law was jailed by a court in southern China.
Vowing to continue the fight for truth and justice, Zhang Wuzhou was sentenced to two years and nine months in prison by the Qingcheng District People's Court in Guangzhou, the provincial capital of Guangdong, on March 24.
The court found Zhang guilty of "obstructing public officials" and "picking quarrels and provoking trouble."
Zhang was visibly frail and tired as the sentence was handed down to her after a brief hearing.
Her son Xu Hungbo said that despite her poor physical and mental condition Zhang didn’t break down after the court jailed her.
“You sentenced me to two and a half years in jail. I will spend that time looking for the truth,” Xu quoted her as saying, reported Hong Kong-based Apple Daily.
She repeatedly said "This isn't the truth" and "I was framed" following the court verdict, he noted, adding that they would appeal against the sentence after discussions with lawyers even though they have “lost faith in China’s justice system.”
Police in Guangzhou arrested Zhang last June after she stood up holding signs commemorating the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre and opposing Hong Kong’s highly repressive national security law.
Her relatives and lawyers alleged that she was tortured and beaten in police custody, with marks on her body proving she was denied medical treatment for her injuries.
Zhang has been suffering from non-cancerous growths in the uterus for years. Her repeated appeals for treatment were allegedly ignored during her detention.
Fellow rights activist Liang Yiming expressed grave concerns about Zhang and feared she may not come out alive as "she will not compromise on anything.""She won't back down if she is sure that she is in the right," he was quoted in a Radio Free Asia article.
Zhang earlier served prison terms on similar charges with her sister Zhang Weichu in 2015 that made headlines. The outspoken sisters were petitioning Chinese authorities for justice following the death of their brother Zhang Liumao in police custody on Nov. 4, 2015.
The family alleged his body showed signs of severe physical assaults during detentionCommunist and officially atheist China regularly ranks top in the list of worst offenders of human rights and religious freedom across the globe.
Beijing has been criticized for its judicial system despite reforms “to bring an end to torturing and mistreating suspects” in police detention, which has been widespread across the country.
However, rights groups say legal reforms didn’t bring important changes as dissent is still gagged and prisoners mistreated in custody.
In a report in 2015, Amnesty International argued that China’s police continue to abuse and beat prisoners, often using torture devices and denying them food, water, sleep and medical care in order to extract confessions.