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    Reporters Without Borders said in it’s 2005 special report titled “Xinhua: the world’s biggest propaganda agency”, that “Xinhua remains the voice of the sole party”, “particularly during the SARS epidemic, Xinhua has for last few months been putting out news reports embarrassing to the government, but they are designed to fool the international community, since they are not published in Chinese.”
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China Upholds Jail Term of Peasants’ Advocate Chen Guangcheng

Posted by Author on January 13, 2007

By JOSEPH KAHN, New York Times, US –

BEIJING, Jan. 12 — A Chinese court on Friday upheld the conviction of and lengthy jailcheng guangcheng 1 sentence for a leading advocate for peasants’ rights despite widespread criticism that he was unjustly made a target by corrupt local officials.

The ruling, by the Linyi Intermediate Court in Shandong Province, rejected the final appeal of Chen Guangcheng, known in legal circles as China’s “barefoot lawyer.”

Mr. Chen, blind since a childhood illness, led a campaign to stop the authorities in the city of Linyi from forcing peasants to have abortions to meet population-control quotas. Local officials put him under house arrest for 10 months, then charged him on criminal counts of destroying property and organizing a mob to disrupt traffic.

He was sentenced to four years and three months in prison.

The same Linyi appeals court in December overturned the conviction of Mr. Chen, citing insufficient evidence. But after a hasty second trial, Mr. Chen was convicted on the identical charges and given an identical sentence by a lower court in Yinan County, Shandong.

Officials of the ruling Communist Party tightly control the country’s legal system, and political considerations tend to outweigh legal ones when deciding delicate cases, including human rights cases, although officials do not acknowledge it.

The roller-coaster-like reversals in Mr. Chen’s case raised suspicions that the local and central authorities at least initially disagreed about how to handle Mr. Chen’s case, with local officials eventually prevailing.

Mr. Chen’s advocacy work on behalf of peasants in Shandong and his high-profile effort to stop abuses in the country’s population-control policies attracted attention from Chinese and international legal experts. National population planning officials in Beijing verified some of his complaints about forced abortions and sterilizations and in 2005 ordered Linyi to stop using violent methods to reach population control targets.

But local officials in Linyi retaliated against him and his family, relatives, friends and defense lawyers said. His home village was put under constant guard.

Mr. Chen’s lawyers and several leading international legal experts contend that the case against him made a mockery of China’s claim that it is developing an impartial legal system.

The court ignored defense claims that testimony against Mr. Chen was a result of forced confessions by villagers taken into custody. The judges declined to postpone the trial when one witness, who Mr. Chen’s lawyers say was prepared to testify that he had been forced to provide evidence against Mr. Chen, was arrested by the local police on the eve of Mr. Chen’s trial.

The court also proceeded with the case despite repeated physical harassment of Mr. Chen’s Beijing-based defense lawyers, among a variety of other violations.

“It is obviously a disappointing result, but at this point it was not unexpected,” said Li Jinsong, Mr. Chen’s lead lawyer, who was himself badly beaten by thugs when traveling to Linyi to visit Mr. Chen late last month.

“We will continue to appeal to higher authorities to reconsider this matter,” he said.

He said he would also seek a medical parole for Mr. Chen, who is legally blind.

original New York Times’ reportChinese Court Upholds Conviction of Peasants’ Advocate

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