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Xinjiang activist Zhang Haitao was recently sentenced to 19 years in prison for the crimes of “inciting subversion of state power” and “providing intelligence to foreign forces.” He will also lose ¥120,000 in personal property to be confiscated. Officials are moving to seize his wife and new child’s home, rendering the jobless mother and one-month-old infant destitute and homeless. Zhang Haitao has appealed his sentence.
On Monday January 18, 2016 Zhang Haitao’s family received the court verdict.
Zhang Haitao’s wife Li Aijie gave this statement: “Is it possible this crime deserved a 19-year sentence? I’m shocked. I never imagined that they would give him such a harsh sentence. He said one thing. Could he subvert state power? He just published articles on the Internet. This is the only evidence, also that he was interviewed by several media outlets and posted the recordings. They also said that Haitao is a Boxun correspondent. Haitao said it’s an automated system that credits contributors as “correspondents.” He did nothing else. Where is their conscience? You’re sentencing us to death. The lawyer said it best, if a few words can subvert this government’s power, that power isn’t worth much. Do a few words have so much power, more powerful than an atom bomb?”
Boxun Network published two articles by Zhang Haitao. One was a commentary, the other recounted his experiences while in detention. Boxun objects to the authorities’ absurd action of labeling a contributor as a “Boxun correspondent.”
On June 26, 2015 Zhang Haitao’s home was searched and he was detained on suspicion of the crime of “inciting ethnic hatred and ethnic discrimination.” At the time, his wife was six months’ pregnant. In July the charge was changed to “suspicion of picking quarrels and promoting trouble” and he was formally arrested. After nearly five months in jail, the charges were again changed to “inciting subversion of state power.”
Officials have notified his wife that they are going to confiscate their property. His wife only has a small house, and their son is only a month old. She can’t go out and work. They have no income or savings, and she’s losing her house and feels hopeless.
After Zhang Haitao was laid off from his job at a state-owned enterprise in the 1990s, he moved to Xinjiang in 1995. He began making a living selling telephone calling cards. He has long been concerned about the ethnic problems in Xinjiang and people’s livelihoods. He helped petitioners post Internet descriptions of the injustices they’d suffered, and has published independent views on social problems. In 2009 he was taken into custody by the police on the crime of “suspected fraud.” Two months later he was released. Over the past few years, every time the “Two Meetings” (National People’s Congress and Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference) take place in Beijing, or on the anniversary of the June 4, 1989 Tiananmen Massacre or other sensitive dates, Zhang Haitao has been taken into the local police station to be monitored as a “stability maintenance target.”