23:17, December 27 324 0 theguardian.com

2017-12-27 23:17:04
US and Germany call for release of Chinese activist 'Super Vulgar Butcher'

The United States and Germany have called for China to release a prominent human rights activist who was jailed this week for eight years on subversion charges, in a rare rebuke that called on the government to view dissidents as partners rather than enemies.

The two countries were “deeply disappointed” by the sentence of Wu Gan, better known by his online nom de plume “Super Vulgar Butcher”, according to a joint statement by the US and German embassies in Beijing. Wu’s sentence was the harshest in a spate of politically motivated trails targeting civil rights lawyers and activists.

“We call on the Chinese authorities to release Wu immediately,” the two embassies said in a joint statement. “We urge Chinese authorities to view lawyers and rights defenders as partners in strengthening Chinese society through development of the rule of law.”

China launched an unprecedented crackdown on human rights lawyers beginning in 2015, detaining and questioned nearly 250 people in what some have dubbed a “war on law”.

Wu remained defiant after his trial and said his harsh sentence was the result of his refusal to become a “slave” to China’s “autocracy”.

“I got eight years, but I feel no grief or despair. This was my choice, because opposing autocracy means you are already on the road to jail,” Wu said in the statement relayed by his lawyer after the trial. “I call on the international community to pay attention to China’s deteriorating human rights situation.”

Another prominent attorney, Xie Yang, was tried on Tuesday but was not given any punishment after he retracted claims he has been tortured in custody.

“As Xie has been exempted from punishment, we urge China to allow Xie to resume his professional activities without preconditions and be free of any restrictions,” the US and Germany said.

Chinese state media was quick to condemn the two governments, calling the comments “a naked interference in internal affairs”. The human rights lawyers arrested in the crackdown were a “poisonous mushroom growing in Chinese society”, said an editorial in the Global Times, a state run tabloid.