On the 40th anniversary of the Cultural Revolution, censorship of the media in China continues. Today, Yang Tianshui was sentenced to 12 years in prison for speaking out against the government—or, in official terms, the “subversion of state power.” This is familiar territory for Yang, who has already served ten years in prison for the supposed crime of “counter-revolution,” resulting from his public condemnation of the military’s assault on pro-democracy demonstrators in Tiananmen Square.
The latest charges, which Yang did not appeal, stemmed from several essays that he posted on the internet in support for the “Velvet Action of China,” named after the Velvet revolution that successfully defeated communism in Czechoslovakia. According to Reporters without Borders, “the arrest and trial of the cyberdissident did not respect Chinese law. Yang was picked up without an arrest warrant by Security Bureau agents in plainclothes and his trial was rushed through in three hours.” Not a surprise, considering China jailed the more journalists in 2005 than any other country—the seventh consecutive year they’ve been on top.