(frontlinedefenders.org) On 25 March 2011, human rights defender Mr Liu Xianbin was sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment by the Suining Intermediate People’s Court in Sichuan Province. Liu Xianbin is a veteran democracy and human rights activist who was a founding member of the Sichuan branch of the China Democracy Party (CDP) in 1998, and has previously served two terms in prison for his activism. He has been in detention since his arrest on 28 June 2010 (see Front Line Urgent Appeal dated 7 July 2011).
Following a trial which lasted approximately two hours, Liu Xianbin was convicted of “inciting subversion of state power”, charges which relate to articles he wrote online and for overseas Chinese publications advocating democratic reforms. It is reported that one of the articles introduced as evidence against Liu Xianbin was a piece he had written in February 2010 arguing that non-violent street protests were a necessary and inevitable stage of democratisation. According to his wife, Ms Chen Mingxian, during the trial Liu Xianbin was refused permission to make a closing statement by the judge. His lawyer was also reportedly interrupted continuously by the presiding judge when trying to present a defence.
In 1991, Liu Xianbin was arrested and subsequently sentenced to two and a half years imprisonment for his role in the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests. On his release from prison, Liu Xianbin continued his activism and in 1998 he helped found a local branch of the CDP in Sichuan province. The following year he was convicted of ‘subversion of state power’ and sentenced to 13 years in prison and an additional three years’ deprivation of political rights.
Liu Xianbin was released in November 2008 and once again resumed his human rights defence. He was an initial signatory of Charter ’08 a month after his release from prison. He also wrote in support of fellow human rights defenders who had been imprisoned, including Mr Tan Zuoren, an activist jailed after documenting the poor construction of buildings which contributed to the death toll in China’s 2008 earthquake in Sichuan province.
Front Line believes that the sentencing of Liu Xianbin is directly related to his legitimate and peaceful work in defence of human rights.