Sichuan dissident Chen Wei is scheduled to go on trial at 9 a.m. on December 23, 2011. His case will be heard by the Suining Municipal Intermediate People's Court of Sichuan Province on charges of "inciting subversion of state power." Chen's defense lawyers, Zheng Jianwei and Liang Xiaojun…will be pleading not guilty on his behalf.

Chen was detained on February 20, 2011, and formally arrested on March 28. Following the Jasmine Revolution in North Africa and the Middle East earlier this year, Chinese authorities cracked down on dissidents, rights defense activists, petitioners, and lawyers. Many of these individuals were later released. Chen is one of the few who have been officially charged and are facing criminal sanction.

The procuratorate charged in its indictment that, between March 2009 and January 2011, Chen published "inciting articles" on overseas websites, including Democratic China , Human Rights in China , and China E-Weekly , to subvert state power. The articles cited in the indictment include "The Illness of the System and the Antidote of Constitutional Democracy," "The Growth of the Civil Opposition Is the Key to China's Democratization," "The Traps of Harmony and the Absence of Equality," and "Sentiments from a Hunger Striker on International Human Rights Day."

Chen has not been permitted to see his family since being detained. His wife, Wang Xiaoyan , and other family members have been repeatedly summoned and harassed by the police, who warned their employers to "watch out for these people." Authorities also attempted to keep Wang from hiring Liang Xiaojun as defense counsel and then set various obstacles to prevent Chen from meeting with his lawyers—to date, Chen has been able to meet with Zheng Jianwei only twice and with Liang Xiaojun once. Chen's wife, brother, and sister have also not yet received permits to attend Chen's trial.

Chen Wei was one of student leaders in the 1989 Democracy Movement. He was a member and then the Secretary-General of the Beijing Institute of Technology branch of the Beijing Universities Students Autonomy Joint Committee. After the June Fourth crackdown, Chen, fellow activist Liu Xianbin, and others returned to Suining to plan an underground Universities Students Autonomy Joint Committee. Chen was soon arrested and detained at Qincheng Prison in Beijing. He was released in December 1990, but had been expelled from his university.

In 1991, Chen, still in Beijing, together with Hu Shigen,Wang Tiancheng, Liu Jingsheng, and others activists, formed the Chinese Liberal Democratic Party, Free Trade Union, China Democracy Solidarity Union, and other organizations, and planned the third anniversary memorial event for the June Fourth crackdown. Chen was again arrested and sentenced to five years in prison in 1992. He was released in 1997 and continued to promote democracy in Sichuan Province with fellow activist Liu Xianbin.

In 2010, Chen advocated publically for Liu Xianbin's release when Liu was detained. In March 2011, Liu was sentenced to ten years for "inciting subversion of state power"; he is currently imprisoned in Chuanzhong Prison in Sichuan Province. Liu Xianbin is one of the six individuals featured in the 2011, no. 3 issue of China Rights Forum.

For more information on Chen Wei, see:

This press release is available online: http://www.hrichina.org/content/5730

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