On 30 October 1996, the PRC sentenced pro-democracy leader Wangdhen to 11 years imprisonment. Just weeks earlier, Liu Xiabo, another prominent pro-democracy activist, was sent to Labour Camp for 3 years for “re-education through labour” without trial for penning an open letter to China calling for Tibetan autonomy and labour reforms.
A speaker for Human Rights Watch stated, “The government has effectively wiped out the Chinese dissident movement for the foreseeable future.” Amnesty International, in an open letter to PRC Prime Minister Li Peng, expressed a grave concern at the trend towards increased repression in China, despite international claims that Beijing is working to improve human rights protection in China.
While Wangdhen was charged with “conspiring to subvert the government” , Amnesty International says, “It is clear that the “crimes” imputed to Wangdhen amount to no more than the peaceful exercise of his fundamental right to freedom of expression and association.
Amnesty International considers that Wangdhen’s detention violates international standards.” Wangdhen’s harsh sentence has similarly attracted criticism from several countries including Britain.