‘If I Don't Oppose Dictatorship, Am I Still a Man?': Chinese Activist Gets Eight Years in Prison
Oiwan Lam, 12 Jan 18
       

Wu Gan via Apple Daily News. Licensed for non-commercial use.

“For those living under a dictatorship, being given the honorable label of one who ‘subverts state power’ is the highest form of affirmation for a citizen.”

Chinese human rights activist Wu Gan made this statement to a Tianjin court after receiving an eight-year prison sentence on December 26, 2017. In early January, he filed an appeal to the sentence.

Wu Gan, better known by his nickname “Super Vulgar Butcher”, has been active in Chinese human rights circles since 2008, when he began campaigning on behalf of Deng Yujiao, a waitress who was charged with murder after she stabbed and killed a government official when he attempted to rape her.

His earned his nickname after writing a blog post on “how to slay pigs” (a euphemism for bringing down corrupt officials) and thus established his reputation as a “butcher”. Speaking with the New York Times’ Sinosphere blog, Wu's lawyer, Ge Wenxiu, explained that the name is intended to mock state officials’ use of vulgarity with a sarcastic suggestion that he wants to “slay” for them their corruption and misconduct.

Wu was arrested in 2015 after a protest outside a court in Jiangxi province over a rape and murder case in which the defense was denied access to court documents. His arrest marked the beginning of a nationwide crackdown on human right lawyers and activists.

He was initially charged with “picking quarrels and provoking troubles” and defamation but upon his refusal to confess to his crime, the police changed the allegation to “subversion of state power.”

Wu explained in his statement (via China Change) that he had refused to trade a lighter sentence with public confession:

Wu Gan’s friends were disheartened upon hearing the news of his sentencing. On Twitter, Old Wine said:

After Wu’s statement was widely circulated, another round of smear campaigning targeting him and other human rights lawyers has emerged. A number of Twitter bots spread posts (examples one, two, three and many others) accusing Wu Gan of garnering personal benefits through online activism backed by anti-China forces.

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