Two activists from the Chinese civil society organisation New Citizens’ Movement appeared in court on Tuesday in what human rights groups have called a protracted crackdown on freedom of assembly and expression. Ding Jiaxi, 46, a Beijing-based lawyer, stood trial on Tuesday morning for “gathering a crowd to disturb public order”, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison. Ding was formally arrested in May after organising peaceful protests aimed at urging officials to disclose their assets. “This so-called charge of disturbing public order is not valid,” Ding’s lawyer Sui Muqing told Reuters. “[But] because this is a political persecution, a conviction for him is quite normal.” Li Wei, a 42-year-old unemployed man who participated in the protests, was tried alongside Ding on the same charges. A third group member – Zhao Changqing, 44, who was briefly jailed following the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests – will be tried independently on Thursday. The New Citizens’ Movement is a loose-knit grassroots organisation that aims to promote human rights, transparency and the rule of law. Authorities launched a protracted campaign against the group last spring after its members organised a series of small-scale demonstrations. About 20 members were detained, some of… Read full this story
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