China Jails Quake Activist

Tan Zuoren sentenced to 5 years on subversion charges
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 10, 2010 4:00 AM CST
China Jails Quake Activist
Sstudent ID tags are placed on the ground at the Juyuan Middle School following the 2008 earthquake in Sichuan province. At least 19,000 schoolchildren died in the quake.   (AP Photo/Greg Baker, File)

A Chinese activist who blamed shoddy construction for the deaths of thousands of schoolchildren in the 2008 Sichuan earthquake has been sentenced to 5 years in jail for subversion. Tan Zuoren was charged for a document he wrote on the 1989 crackdown in Tiananmen Square, but supporters believe he was prosecuted because of his efforts to draw attention to poorly built schools, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Human rights groups say the verdict against Tan—who organized an online campaign to list all the children who died in the quake—comes amid a wider Chinese clampdown on dissent. The stiff sentence "is a warning to others,” an Amnesty International regional director tells the Christian Science Monitor. “He was raising issues that directly impact people’s lives, the sort that the authorities fear are going to generate too much support and protest." (More Tan Zuoren stories.)

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