許志永是一位長期民權領袖，於 2020年被拘留，是在撰寫一篇文章，批評中國國家主席習近平，包括他對新冠疫情處理等領導問題，並呼籲其辭職後。 許案是基於他與律師丁家喜進行的和平民權工作，而後者在同一天被判處十二年徒刑。此判決是在許丁兩人分別於2022年6月22日和24日庭審九個多月後作出的，他們在今天確認定判決前一直被關押。
許丁都指稱自己在審前拘留期間遭受酷刑，包括使用“老虎凳”刑具和不讓吃飯喝水等，這些指控是可信的。 2021年2月6日，許志永的未婚妻、維權人士李翹楚因發布有關許丁兩人在拘留期間遭遇的信息（包括遭受酷刑的報告），被以涉嫌“煽動顛覆國家政權罪”拘留。 李目前仍被關押，其律師的報告顯示她的身體健康狀況在監禁中嚴重惡化。
雖然判決書尚未公開，但對許丁的起訴書是將和平倡導增加公民參與國家事務視為“顛覆”。 當局稱，“公民運動”的組織、許志永所謂“攻擊和誹謗”政治制度的文章，以及許志永文章的傳播，都是犯罪活動的證據。 這些活動受到許志永、丁家喜的言論和結社自由權的保護，而中國政府對許丁提出指控、定罪和判刑，違反了中國本國法律及其應尊重言論和結社自由權以及防止酷刑的國際法義務。
美國筆會中國研究和文宣負責人代安玲（Angeli Datt）說：“這一判決是對言論自由的無恥攻擊。中國政府將許志永作為國家之敵，是因為他寫了公民參與和公正公平的中國。 這一判決表明中國共產黨根本沒有安全感，他們害怕一個人的強大聲音。 這個十四年徒刑的判決是國家政權向中國和世界人民隱敝許志永，采取了令人震驚和絕望的行動。 但他的作品在監獄牢房之外依然存在，而國家永遠阻止不了他的話語激勵他人。”
“所有關心民族前途的中國人，都需要擔起我們這一代人的歷史責任，這個責任就是根除專制，建設美好中國。……只要我們一起努力，自由之光，民主之光和法治之光一定會照亮神州大地！”一一丁家喜的法庭陳述，2023 年 4 月 9 日
2019 年12月7 – 8日，許志永在沿海城市廈門舉行的民間社會倡導者非正式聚會上會見了同事； 在會議結束後的幾天和幾個月裏，中國安全機構逮捕了許多與會者，包括人權律師及其同案被告丁家喜。 許志永在躲藏數月後，於 2020年2月15日以“煽動顛覆國家政權”（中國刑法第 105 條第2款）的罪名被拘留。在此期間，他寫了多封批評中國政府政策的公開信和在線評論。 2021年1月19 日，對他的控罪升級為“顛覆國家政權”（刑法第105條第1款）。
世界各地近七十位作家和人權捍衛者，包括庫切（J.M. Coetzee）、艾麗芙·沙法克（Elif Shafak）、滕彪和謝漢蘭（Helen Zia），聯署了美國筆會於2020年11月的一封信，呼籲中國國家主席習近平釋放許志永，並“確保他可以自由寫作並交流其想法，而不用擔心遭到報復。”
PEN America Condemns the 14 Year Sentence Handed Down to Freedom to Write Honoree Xu Zhiyong
April 10, 2023
(NEW YORK)—Chinese essayist, civil rights activist, and lawyer Xu Zhiyong received a 14-year prison sentence today on charges of “subversion of state power.” PEN America condemns the sentence and calls for his and co-accused Ding Jiaxi’s immediate and unconditional release. Xu is PEN America’s 2020 PEN/Barbey Freedom to Write honoree.
Xu Zhiyong (许志永), a longtime civil rights leader, was detained in 2020 after penning an essay criticizing the leadership of China’s president Xi Jinping, including his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, and calling on Xi to resign. The case against him was based on peaceful civil rights work he undertook with lawyer Ding Jiaxi (丁家喜), who received a 12-year prison sentence the same day. The sentencing comes over nine months after Xu and Ding’s trials took place on June 22 and June 24, 2022, respectively, and they remained in detention prior to their sentences being confirmed today.
Both men are honorary members of the Independent Chinese PEN Center (ICPC).
There are credible accusations from Xu and Ding that they were tortured in pre-trial detention, including the use of the “tiger chair” torture device and being deprived of food and water. Xu Zhiyong’s fiancée, rights activist Li Qiaochu, was herself detained on February 6, 2021 on suspicion of “inciting subversion” after posting information about Xu and Ding’s treatment in custody, including reports of torture. Li is currently still detained and the reports from her lawyer indicated her physical and health has seriously deteriorated in jail.
While the verdict is not yet public, the indictments against Xu and Ding cited peaceful advocacy to increase citizen participation in the country as “subversion.” Authorities claimed the organization of the “Citizens Movement”, Xu Zhiyong’s writings which supposedly “attacked and slandered” the political system, and the dissemination of Xu’s writing were evidence of criminal activity. These activities are protected under Xu and Ding’s human rights to freedom of expression and association. In charging, convicting and sentencing them, the Chinese government has violated China’s domestic law and its international legal obligations to respect the right to freedom of expression and association, and to prevent torture.
“This sentence is an outrageous assault on freedom of expression. The government made Xu Zhiyong an enemy of the state because he wrote about civic participation and a just and fair China. The verdict demonstrates the fundamental insecurity of the Chinese Communist Party, who fear the mighty voice of a single man. This 14-year sentence is a shocking and desperate act from the state to hide Xu Zhiyong from the people of China and the world. But his writing lives on outside the bars of a prison cell and the state will never stop his words from inspiring others,” said Angeli Datt, PEN America’s China research and advocacy lead.
“Chinese law places the big label of ‘subverting state power’ on thoughtful and courageous dissidents, including their families. Such a barbaric and upside-down rule of law has long been reduced to an accomplice of totalitarianism. This manipulated trial will add an extra heavy weight to the criminal history of the CCP,” said Mrs. Tienchi Martin-Liao, former and Honorary President of ICPC.
“I’m proud to suffer for the sake of freedom, justice and love. I do not believe they can build national rejuvenation on the quicksand of lies. I do not believe the Chinese nation is destined to authoritarianism and slavery. I don’t believe freedom can be forever imprisoned behind high walls. And I do not believe the future will forever be a dark night without daybreak.”
Xu Zhiyong’s Court Statement, April 9, 2023
“All Chinese who care about our country’s future must shoulder the historical responsibility of our generation, which is to eradicate autocracy and build a beautiful China… As long as we work as one, the light of freedom, democracy and the rule of law will surely shine on the land of China!”
- Ding Jiaxi’s Court Statement, April 9, 2023
On December 7 and 8, 2019, Xu Zhiyong met with colleagues at an informal gathering of civil society advocates in the coastal city of Xiamen; in the days and months after the meeting, Chinese security forces apprehended many of the attendees, including human rights lawyer and co-accused Ding Jiaxi. Xu Zhiyong was detained February 15, 2020 on charges of “inciting subversion of state power” (Article 105(2) of China’s Criminal Law) after months in hiding, during which time he wrote multiple open letters and online commentaries criticizing Chinese government policy. On January 19, 2021, the charges against Xu were upgraded to “subversion” Article 105(1).
In August 2021, the government separately indicted Xu Zhiyong and Ding Jiaxi. The indictment against Xu specifically cited his articles “People’s Country (人民的国家), “A Proposal to Citizens: Seek Candidacy in 2021 Elections” (公民倡议－竞选2021), “Non-violence” (非暴力), and his “A Beautiful China” (美好中国) book. More of his writing can be found on the China Citizens Movement website, which authorities also cited in the indictment.
On December 8, 2020, PEN America recognized Xu’s courage with the PEN/Barbey Freedom to Write Award, awarded annually to recognize an imprisoned writer targeted for their free expression. “We are proud to honor Xu Zhiyong for his indomitable will to speak the truth in the face of grave danger, and we pledge that his voice will not be silenced, nor his name erased. We will fight on his behalf until he is free,” said novelist and PEN America’s then-president Jennifer Egan.
The award was accepted on his behalf by his partner Li Qiaochu, who was later detained. In December 2022, the Netherlands Embassy in Beijing awarded Li with the 2022 Embassy Tulip in honor of her valuable and courageous work as a human rights defender.
Nearly 70 writers and human rights defenders around the world—including J.M. Coetzee, Elif Shafak, Teng Biao, and Helen Zia—joined PEN America in calling on President Xi Jinping to release Xu Zhiyong in a November 2020 letter, and to “ensure he is free to write and communicate his ideas without fear of retribution.”
Xu Zhiyong was also the 2013 laureate of ICPC’s Lin Zhao Memorial Award, named after a Mao-era writer who was executed after continuing to write in prison.
The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention issued opinions in November 2020 and September 2021 deeming the detentions of Xu and Ding to be arbitrary under international law, and has called for their immediate release. The Chinese government continues to ignore these opinions, which are quasi-judicial rulings.