Nobel Prize winner Liu Xiaobo's brother-in-law went on trial for
fraud Tuesday, the latest in a string of Chinese dissidents'
relatives to be subjected to official harassment and persecution.
Liu himself is currently serving an 11-year jail sentence for
inciting subversion after helping organize a pro-democracy campaign
called "Charter '08." Now his brother-in-law, Liu Hui, faces 14
years imprisonment. The three-hour hearing in a suburban Beijing
court ended without a verdict.
"Persecuting relatives is part of the arsenal deployed against
dissidents, critics and whistleblowers as a matter of routine" in
China, says Nicholas Bequelin, a researcher for Human Rights Watch
in Hong Kong. "It is very much part of the repertoire of political
Mo Shaoping, Mr. Liu's lawyer, said he could not say whether the
fraud case, based on an earlier real estate dispute that has since
been resolved, was politically motivated or not, but, he says, "I do
not believe there is enough evidence to charge him."
Liu Hui is the brother of the Nobel laureate's wife, Liu Xia, who
herself has been confined to her Beijing apartment by plainclothes
guards almost permanently since her husband's arrest, despite the
fact that she has never been accused of any crime.
Children of activists
The court case came a day after another democracy activist, Zhang
Lin, announced that he had given up his campaign to send his 10-
year-old daughter to school near his home in the southern province
of Anhui. The school she had been attending, in the provincial
capital Hefei, had refused to re-admit her, prompting widespread
outrage on the Chinese Internet.
Zhang Anni is by no means the first Chinese child to be denied
schooling because of her father's activism. Jailed human rights
lawyer Gao Zhisheng's daughter, Geng Ge, was turned away from high
schools in Beijing in 2008 after her father was detained. She and
her mother fled secretly to the United States shortly thereafter so
that she could continue her education.
"The Communist Party wanted my husband to compromise," says Mr.
Gao's wife, Geng He, "so they used my daughter and me as tools and
put us through horrors."
Blind legal activist Chen Guangcheng complained in testimony to
the US Congress earlier this month that "persecution of my family
has never stopped" since he moved to the United States a year ago.
When Mr. Chen was allowed to leave China after having escaped
from illegal house arrest and sought protection at the US Embassy in
Beijing, the Chinese government gave assurances that his relatives
would be treated according to law, US officials said at the time.
But Chen's nephew, sentenced last November to 39 months in jail
for assault, has been told by officials that if he appeals against
the sentence he will be locked up for life, according to the young
man's father, Chen's eldest brother Chen Guangfu. …