By Tenzin Dharpo
Chinese human rights lawyer Jiang Tianyong (extreme left) with his daughter and wife Jin in an undated photo. file photo.
DHARAMSHALA, Nov. 24: Prolific Chinese human rights lawyer Jiang Tianyong was sentenced to two years in prison for "inciting subversion of state power" on Tuesday. The Intermediate People's Court in the central city of Changsha announced the verdict against the 46 years old Jiang.
In August, the lawyer pleaded guilty to trying to stifle Chinese Communist Party authority in a nationwide televised confession of the court proceedings in Changsha, the capital of Hunan Province in southern China. “It was mainly about the bourgeois Western constitutional system. It certainly had a subliminal influence on me. It gave me ideas about overturning our country’s present political system and introducing their political system into our country,” Jiang was seen saying in the video, also shared on Weibo, China’s Twitter.
Rights groups and his family claim that the Chinese lawyer who represented clients in sensitive cases against the Chinese government was subjected to torture and intimidation since his disappearance in November 2016.
Following the sentencing, Jiang's wife, Jin told the press that she was convinced that her husband was coerced into admission of the so-called charges. She said she is confident of reuniting with her husband one day.
Among a flurry of those who question the fairness of Jiang’s trial, Germany's ambassador to China earlier said in a statement said that fair trial under the circumstances was “impossible”.
The proceedings were "obviously prejudged through a 'confession' aired by Chinese TV before his trial had even begun,'' said Michael Clauss, and that "under these circumstances, a fair trial is impossible.''
In his career as human rights lawyer for over a decade, Jiang represented prominent activists such as Gao Zhisheng and the blind Chinese lawyer Chen Guangcheng as well as Tibetans in Tibet including Phurbu Tsering Rinpoche and Labrang Jigme Guri. In 2008, he publically offered legal services to Tibetans charged in the 14 March Uprising. A year later he was disbarred.
The prosecution and the public court proceedings in high profile cases, many say, is a carefully choreographed drama to counter international criticism over the handling of China’s civil society by the communist party led government.