Another Chinese Dissident on Trial for Subversion

January 31, 2012 - 3:25 AM

BEIJING (AP) — Prosecutors cited a Chinese dissident's poem urging his countrymen to go to a public square and make a stand as evidence Tuesday in a trial accusing him of inciting to subvert state power, the man's lawyer said.

Dissident Zhu Yufu is among a group of writers and intellectuals targeted by Chinese authorities in a crackdown aimed at preventing Arab Spring-style popular uprisings. Three other dissidents have received nine- and 10-year prison terms for subversion or the related charge of inciting subversion over the last two months.

Human rights activists have criticized the ruling party's use of vague subversion laws to jail its critics. Authorities began using the subversion law against activists after repealing a widely criticized law on counterrevolutionary activities.

Zhu's nearly three-hour trial in his hometown of Hangzhou concluded Tuesday morning with no immediate verdict, his lawyer Li Dunyong said by telephone. Li said a verdict was likely by mid-February.

Li said prosecutors cited as evidence a poem Zhu wrote titled "It's Time." Sections of the poem have since been widely shared on the Internet. Part of it reads: "It's time, Chinese people! The square belongs to every one, your feet are your own, it's time to use your feet to go to the square and make a choice."

Zhu sent the poem to friends via the Internet early last year as anonymous calls circulated online urging Chinese to imitate protests that toppled governments in North Africa and the Middle East.

Prosecutors said "It's Time" was meant to encourage Chinese to stage their own anti-government protests, Li said. He said that Zhu denied the charges and denied posting the poem to any public online forum. He said he only shared it with friends.

Li said Zhu insisted the poem expressed his personal desire for freedom and democracy but that he never organized any actual protests. Li noted that the poem didn't specify any meeting time or place.

"It was meant to express his yearning for democracy," Li said. "But as he said himself in the courtroom, it didn't say to gather in any specific square or at any specific time so people could not have organized themselves based on this poem."

A veteran dissident, Zhu previously served nine years in jail for his activism. Prior to his detention last March, Zhu, 58, had been working as a neighborhood security guard, Li said. He was formally charged April 11.

Li said Zhu's ex-wife, Jiang Hangli, and the couple's son were present for the trial.

Rights groups have expressed concern about Zhu's health and said that he suffers lower back pain. Li said Zhu appeared emotionally stable but fatigued.