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The Chinese poem that helped spur seven-year prison term

February 10, 2012 |  1:32 pm

A Chinese dissident writer was sentenced to seven years in prison Friday for "inciting subversion of state power,” according to a human rights group that monitors such cases.

Part of the evidence against Zhu Yufu: A poem titled “It’s Time," which Zhu shared with friends online while dissidents were circulating online calls for the Chinese people to emulate the "Arab Spring" protests for democracy across the Middle East. It appears to evoke protests in Tiananmen Square.

Here is a translation by A.E. Clark, reprinted with permission:

It’s time, people of China! It’s time.

The Square belongs to everyone.

With your own two feet

It’s time to head to the Square and make your choice.

 

It’s time, people of China! It’s time.

A song belongs to everyone.

From your own throat

It’s time to voice the song in your heart.

 

It’s time, people of China! It’s time.

China belongs to everyone.

Of your own will

It’s time to choose what China shall be.

Renee Xia, executive director of the nonprofit group Chinese Human Rights Defenders, said Zhu also was convicted of collecting funding for people who endanger state security, inciting people to hate the socialist system, and expressing views that identified him as part of the illegal China Democracy Party.

Besides the poem, Zhu was also known for writing articles that criticized corruption and drew attention to political prisoners. Xia said the verdict didn’t name specific articles.

"We're seeing a whole batch of heavy sentences for crimes that would in the past 10 years get three, four, five years," Xia said. Over the last few months, three other dissidents have received sentences of nine and 10 years for subversion or inciting subversion.

In its recently released world report, Human Rights Watch condemned "sharp curbs on freedom of expression, association and religion" in China. Yet it said Chinese citizens were becoming increasingly conscious of their rights. Official statistics estimate there are between 250 and 500 protests in China a day.

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-- Emily Alpert in Los Angeles

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