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China activists stand trial in dissent crackdown: lawyer
Guo Feixong and Sun Desheng both face possible five year prison sentences for their attempts to raise awareness of human rights, their lawyer Li Jinxing told AFP. The pair are the latest in a wave of human rights activists, lawyers, academics and journalists to be jailed or detained in what has been seen as China's biggest campaign against government critics in years. Both are writers best known by their pseudonyms and at a court in the southern city of Guangzhou, Guo, whose real name is Yang Maodong, and Sun, whose real name is Sun Sihuo denied "Gathering a crowd to disturb public order", a charge often used to jail protesters. Prosecution documents also mentioned an "Advocacy tour" last year which saw activists travelling across China to promote awareness of human rights, the US-based Chinese Human Rights Defenders said. The prosecution shows that "The government under Xi's leadership has no intention to loosen its control on the legal system as its weapon to silence and punish human rights and democracy advocates", CHRD researcher Renee Xia said in a statement. Guo, a legal consultant based in Guangzhou, is well known for helping residents of a southern Chinese village organise in 2006 against a local Communist party boss who they accused of illegally selling their land to enrich himself. He was involved in protests which saw around 100 people gather outside the offices of the Southern Weekly newspaper in January last year after one of its editorials was brazenly censored. China has this year used the same charge faced by Guo and Sun to jail around a dozen activists who held small-scale protests calling for officials to disclose their financial assets as a measure against corruption.

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