(Guangzhou—Dec. 11, 2018) A Guangzhou court sentenced a musician who wrote songs honoring the deceased Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo to three years in prison on Friday, sparking fears that China is reverting back to a Mao-like era.
Officials claim that his charge, “picking quarrels and stirring up trouble,” was pinned on him because of comments he made “on the internet [that] repeatedly insulted the country’s leaders, causing adverse social impacts,” as well as “false messages,” according to the verdict of the Nansha District People’s Court. It also said, “The relevant information was widely disseminated and commented on, causing serious disturbance of public order. The court found the case to be serious and therefore requiring a custodial sentence. These quotes were obtained by Radio Free Asia (RFA).
Xu was detained in 2017, shortly after writing songs about Liu, who received the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize for his human rights work while in custody and died after prison authorities failed to diagnose his liver cancer until it was in an advanced stage. During his detention, officials pressured him to plead guilty, but he refused.
Liu Hao, Xu’s lawyer, told RFA that they plan on appealing but that he is experiencing pressure from the authorities and worries about losing his license for taking this case.
Additionally, RFA said Wang reported her husband’s court hearing only lasted a handful of minutes. RFA’s report quoted her as saying, “There will always be some people who stand up when faced with injustice. Aren’t we even allowed to leave a comment? So what if we have a go at our leaders? Are they going to charge me?”
She continued, saying, “They seem to be heading back to the era of [late supreme leader] Mao Zedong. What year are we in? This sort of thing would never happen in a democratic country.”
ChinaAid exposes abuses, such as those suffered by Xu, in order to stand in solidarity with the persecuted and promote human rights, religious freedom, and rule of law.