Chi­nese film­maker given a year in prison: lawyer

The China Post - - GUIDE POST -

A Chi­nese court on Tues­day sentenced a film di­rec­tor who made a doc­u­men­tary about con­sti­tu­tion­al­ism to one year in prison for “il­le­gal business ac­tiv­i­ties,” his lawyer said, amid a se­vere crack­down on dis­sent.

Shen Yong­ping’s “A Hun­dred Years of Con­sti­tu­tion­al­ism” is about the his­tory of failed at­tempts to es­tab­lish the rule of con­sti­tu­tional law in China, where the Com­mu­nist Party has been in power since 1949.

DVDs were dis­trib­uted for free and Shen had planned to post the doc­u­men­tary on­line as a free down­load, his lawyer Zhang Xuezhong told AFP.

“This charge is ridicu­lous, he didn’t want to make any money from this film. If any­thing he lost money mak­ing it,” Zhang said.

“But at least this sen­tence is shorter than most, mainly due to the fact that Shen was less de­fi­ant that oth­ers have been in the past.”

Shen’s con­vic­tion comes less than a month after China cel­e­brated its first na­tional Con­sti­tu­tion day and in the wake of a meet­ing of top Com­mu­nist Party of­fi­cials that de­creed it is a “fun­da­men­tal re­quire­ment” to en­sure the rule of law.

The coun­try’s con­sti­tu­tion states: “Cit­i­zens of the Peo­ple’s Repub­lic of China en­joy free­dom of speech, of the press, of assem­bly, of as­so­ci­a­tion, of pro­ces­sion and of demon­stra­tion.”

But the rul­ing party main­tains a tight grip on ex­pres­sion, with protests reg­u­larly quashed and hu­man rights lawyers and ac­tivists com­ing un­der in­creas­ing pres­sure since Xi Jin­ping took power two years ago.

Beijing’s Bureau of Press, Pub­li­ca­tion, Ra­dio, Film and Tele­vi­sion said 4,000 copies of the film found at Shen’s apart­ment were “il­le­gal pub­li­ca­tions,” ac­cord­ing to a copy of the charges posted on­line.

The gov­ern­ment ha­rassed Shen through­out the film­ing process and re­peat­edly dis­cour­aged him from mak­ing the doc­u­men­tary, his lawyer said.

Shen has al­ready been held for eight months, he added.

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