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Chinese journalist who promoted #MeToo movement sentenced to 5 years in prison

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Chinese journalist who promoted #MeToo movement sentenced to 5 years in prison
News

News

Chinese journalist who promoted #MeToo movement sentenced to 5 years in prison

2024-06-14 22:25 Last Updated At:22:30

BEIJING (AP) — Supporters say a Chinese journalist who promoted women’s rights as part of the country’s nascent #MeToo movement has been sentenced to five years in prison on charges of incitement to subvert state authority, almost three years after she and an activist were detained.

The verdict provided to The Associated Press stated that Huang Xueqin would also face a fine of 100,000 yuan ($14,000), underscoring the ruling Communist Party’s intolerance of any activism outside its control in a system whose upper echelons are dominated by men.

China’s #MeToo movement flourished briefly before being snuffed out by the government. China often silences activists by holding them incommunicado for a long time and then sentencing them to prison.

Huang’s release date was listed as Sept. 18, 2026, accounting for her earlier detention. Co-defendant Wang Jianbing was sentenced to three years and six months on the same charge. Wang is more known for his labor rights activity but also helped women report sexual harassment.

Huang and Wang's cases appear to have become intertwined as part of the most recent wave of a general crackdown on rights advocates, a trend that predates the #MeToo movement and includes previous incidents such as the 2015 detentions of women distributing pamphlets against sexual harassment on public transport.

Working as an freelance journalist, Huang helped spark China’s first #MeToo case in 2018 when she publicized allegations of sexual harassment made by a graduate student against her Ph.D. supervisor at one of China's most prestigious universities.

Friends say that Huang and Wang disappeared on Sept. 19, 2021, a day before Huang was scheduled to fly to the United Kingdom to start a master’s degree program on gender violence and conflict at the University of Sussex. They went on trial in September 2023.

The International Women’s Media Foundation earlier gave Huang its Wallis Annenberg Justice for Women Journalists Award.

Supporters of Huang and Wang created a GitHub webpage to post case updates and share their thoughts. China is routinely listed by monitoring groups as among the top imprisoning nations of journalists.

Amnesty International’s China Director Sarah Brooks issued a statement condemning Huang's conviction as an attack on women's advocacy in the People's Republic of China, which has long promoted the concept that “women hold up half the sky,” but whose institutions remain dominated by men.

“These convictions will prolong their deeply unjust detention and have a further chilling effect on human rights and social advocacy in a country where activists face increasing state crackdowns,” Brooks said in an emailed statement.

“In reality, they have committed no actual crime. Instead, the Chinese government has fabricated excuses to deem their work a threat, and to target them for educating themselves and others about social justice issues such as women’s dignity and workers’ rights," Brooks said.

In this photo released by Free Huang Xueqin & Wang Jianbing, Chinese labor activist Wang Jianbing poses on Mount Lushan in Jiangxi province in April 2021. Supporters say Friday, June 14, 2024 that Wang has been sentenced to three years and six months on the same charge of undermining state security as co-defendant Chinese journalist Huang Xueqin who promoted women's rights as part of the country's nascent #MeToo movement and has been sentenced to five years in prison . (Free Huang Xueqin & Wang Jianbing via AP)

In this photo released by Free Huang Xueqin & Wang Jianbing, Chinese labor activist Wang Jianbing poses on Mount Lushan in Jiangxi province in April 2021. Supporters say Friday, June 14, 2024 that Wang has been sentenced to three years and six months on the same charge of undermining state security as co-defendant Chinese journalist Huang Xueqin who promoted women's rights as part of the country's nascent #MeToo movement and has been sentenced to five years in prison . (Free Huang Xueqin & Wang Jianbing via AP)

In this photo released by Free Huang Xueqin & Wang Jianbing, Chinese journalist Huang Xueqin holds up a #METOO sign for a photo in Singapore in Sept. 2017. Supporters say Friday, June 14, 2024 that Xueqin, the Chinese journalist who promoted women's rights as part of the country's nascent #MeToo movement has been sentenced to five years in prison on charges of undermining state security. (Free Huang Xueqin & Wang Jianbing via AP)

In this photo released by Free Huang Xueqin & Wang Jianbing, Chinese journalist Huang Xueqin holds up a #METOO sign for a photo in Singapore in Sept. 2017. Supporters say Friday, June 14, 2024 that Xueqin, the Chinese journalist who promoted women's rights as part of the country's nascent #MeToo movement has been sentenced to five years in prison on charges of undermining state security. (Free Huang Xueqin & Wang Jianbing via AP)

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — This year, Ukraine’s largest music festival struck a different chord. Gone were the international headliners, the massive performance halls and the hundreds of thousands of visitors.

Instead, beloved local artists graced the stage this past weekend at the Atlas Festival — the first since Russia's full-scale invasion in February 2022 — for a smaller but still ebullient crowd. The stage was erected in a shopping mall parking lot, the only option with a shelter large enough to contain the 25,000 people expected in the event of an air raid.

Carefree youth danced, romanced and sang along, rubbing shoulders with hardened military commanders as famous singers who crooned lyrics imbued with national pride. Music was the main goal, but so was shattering the illusion that the capital is invulnerable to the bloody battles hundreds of miles away.

“Such kind of festivals can’t be separated from the life of the country. The country is at war. The core issues here should relate to the war,” said Vsevolod Kozhemyako, a businessman and one of the founders of the 13th “Khartia” Brigade, now a part of Ukraine’s National Guard and defending the frontline in Kharkiv.

“People who are still young and who don’t join (the fight) should understand that they cannot live in a bubble,” he said.

And yet, a bubble is precisely how it feels to be in Kyiv, as the war approaches its third year. While Ukrainian soldiers are killed and wounded every day along the 1,000-kilometer (620-mile) frontline in the east, the capital is a contrast with its busy bars and clubs.

Every so often, Kyiv comes face to face with the war. Two weeks ago, a barrage of Russian missiles destroyed a children’s hospital and a private clinic, in one of the deadliest attacks since the full-scale invasion. Residents have grappled with power cuts caused by Moscow’s targeted destruction of Ukrainian energy generation at the height of a summer heat wave.

In every corner of the music festival, visitors were confronted with the inescapable reality that theirs is a country trapped in a bloody war of attrition. Festival organizers hoped to raise $2.2 million (2 million euros) to help soldiers purchase supplies for the front line.

In the mall’s basement parking lot, various military units, from Khartia to the 3rd Assault, offered interactive games to lure donations and possible recruits. A first-person shooter game offered visitors a chance to improve target practice by gunning down shadowy virtual infantrymen. In another corner, medics brandished severed plastic limbs and offered emergency medical training.

The festival concluded Sunday with a much-anticipated performance from Serhii Zhadan and his band Zhadan and Dogs. Zhadan, a celebrated artist dubbed the poet of the Donbas, recently joined Khartia.

“It’s just a small break, an opportunity to take a breath,” said Zhadan, minutes before he took to the stage for a roaring crowd. “The most important things, they are happening over there, at the frontline.”

On stage, Zhadan started with one of his most beloved songs “Malvi” or “Mallow.” The crowd sang along, word for word. “But what can you do with my hot blood,” they chanted. “Who will come at us.”

18-year old Viktoriia Khalis was excited to see his performance. She had been to the Atlas festival once before in 2021. The difference is stark, she said.

“The main thing that has changed, unfortunately, now the festival is connected with donations,” she said. But she also felt more connected to her homeland. “I feel this entire crowd is related to me. I feel unity.”

She was scared there would be another Russian air attack — a music festival with thousands of attendees would be a prime target — but said she couldn’t miss a chance to see her favorite artists.

For Nadiia Dorofeeva, one of Ukraine’s most famous singers, every concert feels different. “Before, when I entered a stage I was thinking only about if I looked good, sang well and if the people got what they came for. But now, I dream of having no air alarms, I am seeing how people cry at my concerts.”

One of Dorofeeva’s songs, “WhatsApp,” is about a girl waiting for her beloved to return from war. “She washed the phone with tears/Like rainy glass,” often moves listeners to tears.

Among the attendees was Lt. Gen. Serhii Naiev, an assistant deputy chief in Ukraine’s General Staff.

“There are well-known artists on stage, they are performing their concerts and there are a lot of Ukrainians around who are donating their money, much-needed money for the armed forces of Ukraine,” he said.

“We understand that our partners are supporting us, but we also understand that we could do a lot by ourselves, to be stronger,” he said.

Follow AP's coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine

People enjoy a concert at the Atlas Festival in Kyiv, Ukraine, Sunday, July 21, 2024. This year, Ukraine's largest music festival struck a different chord. Gone were the international headliners, the massive performance halls and the hundreds of thousands of visitors. (AP Photo/Anton Shtuka)

People enjoy a concert at the Atlas Festival in Kyiv, Ukraine, Sunday, July 21, 2024. This year, Ukraine's largest music festival struck a different chord. Gone were the international headliners, the massive performance halls and the hundreds of thousands of visitors. (AP Photo/Anton Shtuka)

People enjoy a concert at the Atlas Festival in Kyiv, Ukraine, Sunday, July 21, 2024. This year, Ukraine's largest music festival struck a different chord. Gone were the international headliners, the massive performance halls and the hundreds of thousands of visitors. (AP Photo/Anton Shtuka)

People enjoy a concert at the Atlas Festival in Kyiv, Ukraine, Sunday, July 21, 2024. This year, Ukraine's largest music festival struck a different chord. Gone were the international headliners, the massive performance halls and the hundreds of thousands of visitors. (AP Photo/Anton Shtuka)

Serhii Zhadan, well-known Ukrainian writer and poet, leader of music band Zhadan and Dogs, performs at the Atlas Festival in Kyiv, Ukraine, Sunday, July 21, 2024. This year, Ukraine's largest music festival struck a different chord. Gone were the international headliners, the massive performance halls and the hundreds of thousands of visitors. (AP Photo/Anton Shtuka)

Serhii Zhadan, well-known Ukrainian writer and poet, leader of music band Zhadan and Dogs, performs at the Atlas Festival in Kyiv, Ukraine, Sunday, July 21, 2024. This year, Ukraine's largest music festival struck a different chord. Gone were the international headliners, the massive performance halls and the hundreds of thousands of visitors. (AP Photo/Anton Shtuka)

People with painted faces go to the Atlas Festival in Kyiv, Ukraine, Sunday, July 21, 2024. This year, Ukraine's largest music festival struck a different chord. Gone were the international headliners, the massive performance halls and the hundreds of thousands of visitors. (AP Photo/Anton Shtuka)

People with painted faces go to the Atlas Festival in Kyiv, Ukraine, Sunday, July 21, 2024. This year, Ukraine's largest music festival struck a different chord. Gone were the international headliners, the massive performance halls and the hundreds of thousands of visitors. (AP Photo/Anton Shtuka)

People enjoy a concert at the Atlas Festival in Kyiv, Ukraine, Sunday, July 21, 2024. This year, Ukraine's largest music festival struck a different chord. Gone were the international headliners, the massive performance halls and the hundreds of thousands of visitors. (AP Photo/Anton Shtuka)

People enjoy a concert at the Atlas Festival in Kyiv, Ukraine, Sunday, July 21, 2024. This year, Ukraine's largest music festival struck a different chord. Gone were the international headliners, the massive performance halls and the hundreds of thousands of visitors. (AP Photo/Anton Shtuka)

People dance waiting for the start of the Atlas Festival in Kyiv, Ukraine, Sunday, July 21, 2024. This year, Ukraine's largest music festival struck a different chord. Gone were the international headliners, the massive performance halls and the hundreds of thousands of visitors. (AP Photo/Anton Shtuka)

People dance waiting for the start of the Atlas Festival in Kyiv, Ukraine, Sunday, July 21, 2024. This year, Ukraine's largest music festival struck a different chord. Gone were the international headliners, the massive performance halls and the hundreds of thousands of visitors. (AP Photo/Anton Shtuka)

Serhii Zhadan, well-known Ukrainian writer and poet, leader of music band Zhadan and Dogs, performs at the Atlas Festival in Kyiv, Ukraine, Sunday, July 21, 2024. This year, Ukraine's largest music festival struck a different chord. Gone were the international headliners, the massive performance halls and the hundreds of thousands of visitors. (AP Photo/Anton Shtuka)

Serhii Zhadan, well-known Ukrainian writer and poet, leader of music band Zhadan and Dogs, performs at the Atlas Festival in Kyiv, Ukraine, Sunday, July 21, 2024. This year, Ukraine's largest music festival struck a different chord. Gone were the international headliners, the massive performance halls and the hundreds of thousands of visitors. (AP Photo/Anton Shtuka)

People enjoy a concert at the Atlas Festival in Kyiv, Ukraine, Sunday, July 21, 2024. This year, Ukraine's largest music festival struck a different chord. Gone were the international headliners, the massive performance halls and the hundreds of thousands of visitors. (AP Photo/Anton Shtuka)

People enjoy a concert at the Atlas Festival in Kyiv, Ukraine, Sunday, July 21, 2024. This year, Ukraine's largest music festival struck a different chord. Gone were the international headliners, the massive performance halls and the hundreds of thousands of visitors. (AP Photo/Anton Shtuka)

People enjoy a concert at the Atlas Festival in Kyiv, Ukraine, Sunday, July 21, 2024. This year, Ukraine's largest music festival struck a different chord. Gone were the international headliners, the massive performance halls and the hundreds of thousands of visitors. (AP Photo/Anton Shtuka)

People enjoy a concert at the Atlas Festival in Kyiv, Ukraine, Sunday, July 21, 2024. This year, Ukraine's largest music festival struck a different chord. Gone were the international headliners, the massive performance halls and the hundreds of thousands of visitors. (AP Photo/Anton Shtuka)

People enjoy a concert at the Atlas Festival in Kyiv, Ukraine, Sunday, July 21, 2024. This year, Ukraine's largest music festival struck a different chord. Gone were the international headliners, the massive performance halls and the hundreds of thousands of visitors. (AP Photo/Anton Shtuka)

People enjoy a concert at the Atlas Festival in Kyiv, Ukraine, Sunday, July 21, 2024. This year, Ukraine's largest music festival struck a different chord. Gone were the international headliners, the massive performance halls and the hundreds of thousands of visitors. (AP Photo/Anton Shtuka)

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