A court in China sentenced Zhao Dongmin, leader of a Maoist group, to three years in jail on October 20 for "gathering a crowd to disrupt social order", according to media reports circulating among Maoists worldwide..
Zhao was arrested on August 19 last year after he formed the Shaanxi Union Rights Defence Representative Congress with more than 380 workers from about 20 state-owned enterprises to oversee and monitor public structure restructuring and report corruption and abuses of power.
The municipal government of Xi'an banned the organization on July 27. Zhao wrote an open letter protesting the action to the State Council, the municipal, provincial and central committees of the Communist Party of China. He was arrested 18 days later.
Zhao was the head of the Shaanxi Mao Zedong Thought Study Group, one of several Maoist groups in China that seek the restoration of a more egalitarian, fair and just society.
More than 50 scholars signed a petition this month stating that Zhao was not only innocent but had performed meritorious service and that his arrest mocked the rule of law and insulted trade union organizers.
The three-year sentence given to Zhao is on the upper-end of the scale for labour activists. The authorities nowadays tend to use threats, harassment and short-term detention rather than criminal trials and prison terms to suppress labour groups and activists. Zhao's Maoist allegiance is believed to have led to the relatively heavy sentence.
Zhao Dongmin, a lawyer and a member of the Communist Party of China, had been providing legal services to workers for many years to resolve issues such as unpaid pensions and loss of other benefits.
While Zhao was undergoing trial, the Concerned Group of 108 Veterans of the original 68th Unit and the 23rd Unit of the People's Liberation Army in Da-an City, Jilin Province said in a statement: “Any Chinese who has a conscience and stands for justice knows that what has happened to Zhao Dongmin has gone beyond a single incident. It has become something of political significance in today's China. It has become a test case for us to tell whether the Chinese Communist Party is a real Marxist-Leninist Party or a fake one, whether the government is a real people's government or a fake one, whether the Communists are real ones or fake ones, and whether or not those in the government are actually serving the people.”
Zhao Dongmin’s picture has been taken from the website of the New York-based China Study Group, which also provides details of his case. According to the website post, updated on October 21, he is due to be sentenced only on October 25.