CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 23 September 2017

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Former judge detained for helping farmers

BEIJING (AsiaNews): Police in Xinjiang detained a retired judge, Huang Yunmin, on March 12 for helping local residents file complaints against government officials.

The formal charge brought against him is inciting ethnic hatred and ethnic discrimination.

People familiar with the case say his detention is a retaliation against Huang for helping people prepare and pursue legal complaints over what they view as unjust court verdicts and rights violations.

Police in the city of Tumxuk in Kashgar prefecture, are reported to have taken Huang into custody when they suspected that he was going to accompany farmers to Beijing to present grievances during the major legislative sessions of the National People’s Congress and the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference in early March.

It is unclear why 58-year-old Huang is facing such a serious criminal charge under article 249 of the Criminal Law, which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years.

In recent years, the authorities in Xinjiang have charged several rights advocates and dissidents, as well as imposing harsh sentences on them.

Ilham Tohti, a moderate intellectual who wrote strongly against harshly violent repression of dissidence and been referred to as China’s Mandela, and Zhang Haitao, who posted comments online critical of government policies, being the two standout examples.

Huang has also been accused of having pornographic images on his cellphone and is being held at Tumxuk City Detention Centre in the Third Division of the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps.

He served a five-day administrative detention just prior to being criminally detained. He has been assisting disenfranchised groups for years, particularly agricultural workers and retired military personnel, to file complaints against the local government.

In the early 1990s, Huang began serving as a judge on the Third Agricultural Army Brigade People’s Court in Tumxuk and rose to the top of its human resources department before he was reportedly pushed out of office in 2006.

According to his family, higher-level officials had pressured him to quit his job after he had criticised judicial bureaucracy and exposed court corruption.

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