(October 18, 2010) A former forestry official-turned-environmental activist is on trial in China for publishing a book about a controversial coal power plant without state permission. He stands accused, under China’s surreal justice system, of “conducting illegal business.”
By Patricia Adams, Probe International
The most dangerous job in China, next to being a coal miner it seems, is being an environmentalist.
Liu Futang, a retired forestry official-turned-environmentalist is on trial for publishing a book about a coal-fired power plant on the island of Hainan that has met with fierce resistance from local communities.
According to the prosecutors, Mr. Liu published The Tears Of Hainan II without permission and gave away some 18,000 copies. He now faces charges of “conducting illegal business” and could be sentenced to five years, or more, in jail.
Mr. Liu’s lawyer told Radio Free Asia that the charges are “trumped up” and designed to silence further opposition to the power plant. “He annoyed a lot of developers and vested interests,” his lawyer added, “so the authorities took the opportunity to deal with him.”
Now, the South China Morning Post reports that 26 environmental NGOs and 96 individuals have signed a petition to the court calling for Mr. Liu’s release. They are worried about his declining health, saying that when he appeared in court on October 11, he looked “ravaged.”
The real crime committed in this case is by Chinese authorities wielding laws that infringe on the freedom of speech of innocent Chinese citizens. As long as the Chinese government abuses power in this way, Mr. Liu will suffer, and so will China’s environment.
Read more about Mr. Liu’s case: