On July 13, 2018, in a trial kept secret until yesterday, the Chongqing First Intermediate People’s Court sentenced Jiang Yefei, a political cartoonist, to six and a half years of prison on charges of “inciting subversion of state power” and “illegally crossing the border.”
Jiang Yefei, 50, is known for his satirical cartoons published in US-based online magazine Boxun and was taking refuge in Thailand since 2008 and was arrested on October 28, 2015 on request of the Chinese authorities, which “repatriated” him in the same plane as Swedish publisher Gui Minhai, still in detention with a pending trial, and human rights activist Dong Guangping, sentenced 3 and a half years in the same trial as Jiang.
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) calls on Beijing to immediately release Jiang Yefei in accordance to the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees signed by China in 1982. At the time he was arrested, Jiang had obtained an official refugee status from the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and was preparing to relocate to Canada.
“By persecuting a political cartoonist, Xi Jinping’s regime shows an unprecedented level of intolerance against independent voices,” said Cédric Alviani, the head of the Reporters Without Borders East Asia desk. “It is deplorable that Thai prime minister Prayut Chan-o-cha allowed to hand him over to China, while he explicitly knew the what would happen to him.“
Prior to his sentence, Jiang was detained incommunicado for nearly three years and appeared on the Chinese state media with visible signs of physical abuse. Before taking refuge in Thailand, Jiang had been imprisoned and tortured on several accounts for his work as a cartoonist.
Ranked 176th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2018 World Press Freedom Index, China is currently holding more than 50 journalists and bloggers in its prisons.