Rights group urges China to quash 18-year sentence against outspoken property tycoon Ren Zhiqiang

Although we are headquartered in Washington D.C. USA, our reporters and editors are working around the globe to cover what you care about. We invite you to donate to our fundraiser to help us keep our quality news free and available to all.  

Chinese authorities should immediately quash the 18-year sentence against a property tycoon and outspoken critic of President Xi Jinping, Human Rights Watch said on Tuesday.  

On September 22, 2020, a Beijing court announced on its website that Ren Zhiqiang had been convicted of taking bribes and embezzling public funds. He was also fined 4.2 million yuan (US$620,000).

“The corruption charges against Ren Zhiqiang are a thin cover for President Xi Jinping’s intolerance of dissent,” said Yaqiu Wang, China researcher at Human Rights Watch. “The 18-year sentence handed down to a Communist Party member and member of the economic elite shows the grim environment for speech in China.”

[read_more id="2" more="Read full article" less="Read less"]

Ren, 67, is the former chairman of Huayuan, a state-owned real estate group. He was born into a political family – his father was a deputy commerce minister. He rose to public prominence after garnering 38 million followers on the Chinese social media site Weibo. Known as “The Cannon,” Ren often used the platform to express views critical of authorities, and to urge the Communist Party to improve its governance of the country.

In March, the Beijing police detained Ren after he criticized the Chinese government’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak. In an online essay, Ren wrote that “People’s lives are harmed by both the virus and the serious ills of the system.” While he did not mention Xi by name, he suggested Xi was a “clown stripped naked who insisted on continuing being emperor.”

In July, the Beijing Commission for Discipline Inspection, the Chinese Communist Party’s abusive internal investigation agency, announced that Ren had been expelled from the Party and would be prosecuted on corruption charges. The commission did not make public where Ren was being held, and it is unclear what, if any, access he had to family members or lawyers of his choice.

The case highlights serious due process concerns and the absence of credible, publicly available information to substantiate the charges against Ren. The trial, held on September 9 at the Beijing No. 2 Intermediate Court, was secret. Neither the court nor Chinese state media released any information regarding the proceedings. Ren’s friends said that he was represented by a government-appointed lawyer, but it is unclear whether he had requested his own lawyer. The court said Ren had confessed to all charges and would not appeal.

The authorities’ treatment of Ren in detention is unknown, but as Human Rights Watch documented in a 2016 report, abuses against detainees in corruption cases are common. They include prolonged sleep deprivation, being forced into stress positions for extended periods, deprivation of water and food, and severe beatings. Detainees are also subject to solitary and incommunicado detention in unofficial detention facilities. After “confessing” to corruption, suspects are typically brought into the criminal justice system, convicted, and sentenced to often lengthy prison terms.

In February 2016, Ren was banished from social media in China after he criticized Xi for calling on the Chinese media to “serve the Party” in a speech. The authorities publicly censured Ren and put him on a one-year probation from the Party.

“Ren’s sham trial may put him in prison for the rest of his life,” Wang said. “A failure to immediately release Ren would show the world that China’s legal system is a tool for settling political scores, not delivering justice.”


Today News Africa
Today News Africahttps://todaynewsafrica.com
TODAY NEWS AFRICA is registered and headquartered in Washington, District of Columbia, United States of America. Our publication is widely read, respected and influential. By providing daily answers to questions our readers have about the people, the businesses and the continent of Africa, we are reaching a diverse and wide audience from around the world. Our readers, many of them world leaders, trust us because we are independent and truthful. Our advertisers understand the difference between news, views and ads. Contact us: contactus@todaynewsafrica.com


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Trending Now

DR Congo rebel commander wanted for multiple crimes still a free man

Congolese authorities have not arrested a rebel commander wanted for multiple crimes under a June 2019 warrant even as his forces have...

Trump says Sudan to be removed from terrorism list if it pays $335 million in compensation

President Donald Trump on Monday said Sudan will be removed from the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism once it...

Anxiety in Africa as Johnson & Johnson conceals critical details about COVID-19 vaccine illness

Anxiety continued to mount across Sub-Saharan Africa on Monday over COVID-19 vaccine trials by Johnsons & Johnson, as the company continued...

Rights group urges AU to denounce crackdown on Cameroon’s opposition

Human Rights Watch on Monday urged the African Union (AU), the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR), the Economic...

Mass prison break: Thugs disguised as protesters free over 200 inmates in Nigeria

Thugs disguised as protesters have freed over 200 inmates in Nigeria.The criminals disguised as EndSARS protesters freed...


Damning report finds detainees in Iran were sexually abused and given electric shocks in gruesome post-protest crackdown

Iran’s police, intelligence and security forces, and prison officials have committed, with the complicity of judges and prosecutors, a catalogue of...

Africa shocked U.S. under Trump has worst coronavirus response in the world

President Donald Trump has "failed in his basic duty to protect Americans", world's renowned journalist Bob Woodward told Fox News Sunday...

IMF’s Georgieva says second round of support coming to Africa but Oxfam argues debt cancelation the only way out of COVID-19 turmoil

The Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Ms. Kristalina Georgieva said on Wednesday that the Washington DC-based institution is...

Johnson & Johnson vaccine trial taking place in South Africa halted by participant’s illness

Johnson & Johnson confirmed on Monday that it had paused its COVID-19 vaccine study because one of its participants was taken...

EXCLUSIVE: IMF economist details how COVID-19 economic turmoil in Asia will affect Sub-Saharan Africa

The COVID-19 pandemic is battering economies in Asia with a contraction expected for the first time in many decades. The economic...

DR Congo rebel commander wanted for multiple crimes still a free man

Congolese authorities have not arrested a rebel commander wanted for multiple crimes under a June 2019 warrant even as his forces have continued to carry out summary killings, rapes and sexual slavery, extortion, and forced recruitment of children, Human Rights Watch said on Monday.Congolese judicial authorities on June 7, 2019 issued the warrant for the militia leader, Guidon Shimiray Mwissa (known as Guidon),...


[read_more id="2" more="Read full article" less="Read less"]