Christian church leader jailed in Chinese human rights crackdown

Hu Shigen, a leader of the underground church movement, found guilty of subversion and jailed for seven years

By Stuart Leavenworth at the Guardian

A prominent Christian church leader has become the latest to be jailed by Chinese courts during a week of activist trials and public confessions that have shocked international observers.

Hu Shigen, a leader of an underground church movement, was found guilty of subversion, sentenced to seven years and six months’ imprisonment and derived of political rights for five years.

Previously, Hu spent 16 years in prison for other political offences, including sharing leaflets about China’s 1989 crackdown on protesters in Tiananmen Square.

A Chinese court in Tianjin, 60 miles south-east of Beijing, is this week rolling out a string of court sentences against rights activists and lawyers that observers claim have almost zero credibility.

Police rounded them up more than a year ago, held them in secret detention and later arrested several on subversion charges. Families of those arrested say they’ve had no access to their relatives. China Human Rights Defenders, a non-profit organisation with its headquarters in Washington DC, says the detentions and trials make a mockery of China’s oft-stated commitment to rule of law.

China claims that those facing trials, including lawyers in the Fengrui law firm, conspired to overthrow the Chinese Communist party. State media on Wednesday said Hu confessed to being deeply connected to “foreign anti-China forces” and had conspired with members of the Fengrui firm about “how to get lawyers involved with sensitive incidents”.

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