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China: 3 labour activists get suspended prison terms

"3 Labor Activists in China Get Suspended Prison Terms", 26 Sep 2016

A court in southern China has sentenced three prominent labor organizers to suspended prison terms… more than nine months after they were arrested amid a crackdown on civic organizations...The activists…could still be imprisoned if found guilty of any further offenses, the lawyer, Lai Shengqi, said by telephone.

…Zeng Feiyang [a labour activist], was charged with “gathering a crowd to disturb social order” and sentenced to three years with a four-year suspension. The two other organizers, Tang Jian and Zhu Xiaomei, were sentenced to one and a half years in prison with two-year suspensions, said William Nee, a China researcher in Hong Kong for Amnesty International.

…While their activities had been generally tolerated for many years, as the Chinese economy boomed and labor shortages grew, the government appears to be taking a harsher line…Pang Kun, a former lawyer for Ms. Zhu, expressed some relief after the suspended sentences were announced…But, he said, the sentences were “unacceptable” because what Ms. Zhu did — organize and help workers — “was not a crime.” The suspended sentences will also mean that the activists will find it difficult to continue their work…

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