China - Labour activist Liu Shaoming sentenced to four and a half years in prison

On 7 July 2017, labour activist Liu Shaoming was sentenced to four and a half years’ imprisonment for “inciting subversion of state power.”

Liu Shaoming is a labour activist; a former member of the Beijing Workers’ Autonomous Federation (BWAF), China’s first independent trade union; and the founder of Volunteers for Workers’ Rights, an organisation working to bridge the pro-democracy and labour rights movements in China during collective labour disputes.
In recent years, Liu has successfully organised workers to win fair settlements in several high profile disputes. Then in May 2015, Liu published an essay about his experiences during the 1989 Tiananmen Square Movement as a member of the Beijing Workers’ Autonomous Federation (WAF). He went missing four days later. On 14 June 2015, the Guangdong police confirmed that he was being detained at the Huadu Detention Centre in Guangdong Province. He was charged with “picking quarrels and provoking troubles” and “inciting subversion of state power.”
In April 2016, Liu was tried at an Intermediate People’s Court in Guangzhou. He was barred from meeting with his lawyers before and during the trial on grounds of “national security”. The trial ended within one day and he remained in custody.
By July 2017 concerns for his health were mounting. In a statement published on 5 July 2017, the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions (HKCTU) said “reports indicate that Liu Shaoming has been suffering from abdominal pain since October 2016. Liu Shaoming needs proper medical attention now.” Liu was officially sentenced two days later.
Several Chinese rights advocates have been jailed for trying to keep alive the memory of the Tiananmen Square pro-democracy movement that was crushed by the military. Hundreds of civilians – over 1,000 by some estimates – are believed to have died in the crackdown.

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