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Friday, 21 September, 2001, 13:42 GMT 14:42 UK
Chinese labour activist jailed
Chinese workers at an automobile factory in Shanghai
Li tried to organise an independent workers' union
A Chinese labour activist has been sentenced to 10 years in prison after reportedly demanding that the government pay to treat health problems he developed during a previous jail term.

The US-based group Human Rights in China says Li Wangyang, who was jailed for 11 years in the wake of the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989, has heart, lung and back ailments.

He says they are the result of mistreatment during his prison term.

He is reported to have gone on a hunger strike for 22 days earlier this year to demand that the government pay for his medical treatment.

A court official in the southern city of Shaoyang confirmed to the Associated Press news agency that Li was sentenced, but would not give details of the length of sentence or the charges.

Human Rights in China says he was charged with "incitement to subvert state power", quoting Li's brother-in-law.

Taken from hospital

Police arrested Li on 6 May, taking him from the hospital where he was being treated.

Li's sister, Li Wanglin, was sentenced to three years of "re-education through labour" for helping publicise his hunger strike and speaking to foreign journalists, HRIC says.

Li, 50, was jailed in 1989 after he set up an independent trade union, the Shaoyang Workers Autonomous Federation.

HRIC says he was often held in solitary confinement and regularly beaten severely while in prison. Li's family says he was granted parole in June 2000 due to poor health.

HRIC also says that four intellectuals are due to be tried on charges of subversion starting on 26 September.

The four founded an online discussion group, the New Youth Study Group, HRIC says. They could be jailed for up to 10 years.

The group condemned China for scheduling the trials at a time when world attention was focused on the attacks in the United States.

See also:

30 Dec 00 | Asia-Pacific
Chinese dissidents urge activist's release
28 Dec 00 | Asia-Pacific
Leading Chinese dissident jailed
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