Human Rights Activist Kwon Pyong on Trial for ‘Subversion’
Feb 18, Beijing: The Chinese authorities have been trying the activist Kwon Pyong for “inciting subversion of state power,”
Kwon Pyong, 28, who graduated from Iowa State University in 2012, has been active on social media speaking out against authoritarian rule and human rights violations in China. In 2014, he participated in the pro-democracy demonstrations in Hong Kong. On September 30, 2016, Kwon Pyong was detained by police. He had planned to carry out a protest the next day, China’s National Day, by wearing a T-shirt imprinted with slogans mocking Xi Jinping.
The indictment against Kwon Pyong on February 15 cited comments he posted on Twitter and Facebook, both of which are blocked in China. Days before his trial began, Kwon Pyong’s lawyers were dismissed, a tactic increasingly used by Chinese authorities to block activists’ right to effective legal representation.
In Freedom House’s Freedom in the World 2017 report, China was rated “Not Free” and given a score of 15 out of 100, a decline from the previous year. The Congressional-Executive Commission on China reported 1,433 cases of political and religious prisoners in the country as of October 11, 2016.
“To treat Kwon Pyong’s online criticism of President Xi Jinping and the one-party state as a national security threat highlights the Communist Party’s insecurity about commentary that does not accept the Party’s monopoly on power,” said Freedom House executive vice president, Daniel Calingaert. “The government should drop its charges against Kwon and instead protect the right to critical speech.”
China is rated Not Free in Freedom of the Press 2016, and Not Free in Freedom on the Net 2016.
The Oslo Times