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Chinese government continues to crack down on rights campaigners

Chinese writer and activist Guo Feixiong's trial resumed Friday, two months after his lawyers boycotted his hearing in solidarity with rights campaigners.

Guo Feixiong on trial for protesting censorship
Guo was arrested for participating in a public protest against media censorship outside the Guangzhou offices of the Southern Weekly newspaper in January of last year, reported Reuters. The state has filed charges against him and fellow activist Sun Desheng for "gathering crowds to disturb public order."

Sophie Richardson, China Director of Human Rights Watch, denigrated the actions of the Chinese government.

"Beijing's assault on civil society seems to know no bounds as peaceful activists are increasingly subject to criminal prosecutions," said Richardson, according to HRW.

The trial is taking place at the same time the government is bearing down on Chinese rights activists who have shown their support for the Hong Kong pro-democracy campaigners. In recent news, protesters and police clashed with one another in Hong Kong, showing that the pro-democracy demonstrations, which are mainly based on civil disobedience, have attracted violent response from the state.

Guo's lawyer Zhang Lei indicated through social media that the trial had started, but the authorities were not allowing computers into the court room and were quickly dismissing any arguments or objections in Guo's legal defense. Zhang described the sessions as intense, according to Reuters. Security outside of the Guangzhou People's Court was high and police blocked roads and prevented foreign media and diplomats from observing the trial. Activists and supporters were also arrested.

Guo is widely respected for his work to improve human rights in China and he has served several years in prison because of his stance on the government's use of censorship and methods of control.

Trial takes place as mass demonstrations continue in Hong Kong 
The Hong Kong democracy demonstrations started in late September and are represented by an umbrella – symbolizing the tear gas and weather conditions that protestors face. Protestors have won the sympathies of many around the world as they are met with harsh opposition and violence from the government. China has repeatedly tried to limit news of the demonstrations both online and in broadcast media. According to Reuters, Chinese authorities have detained no less than 76 activists and President Xi Jinping has not indicated that the crackdown will end anytime soon.

Director Richardson defended the protestors, describing them as peaceful, not the enemies of the state – as their treatment suggests.

"Beijing's assault on civil society seems to know no bounds as peaceful activists are increasingly subject to criminal prosecutions," wrote Richardson, according to HRW.

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