TIME China

Veteran Chinese Journalist Gao Yu Sentenced to 7 Years

Anti-Beijing protesters hold pictures of jailed veteran Chinese journalist Gao Yu during a rally outside Chinese central government's liaison office in Hong Kong Friday, April 17, 2015 as they demand press freedom and the release of Gao
Kin Cheung—AP Anti-Beijing protesters hold pictures of jailed veteran Chinese journalist Gao Yu during a rally outside the Chinese central government's liaison office in Hong Kong on April 17, 2015

The case highlights Xi Jinping's distrust of social organization outside of communist control

(BEIJING) — A Beijing court sentenced a veteran Chinese journalist to seven years in prison Friday after convicting her of leaking a document detailing the Communist Party leadership’s resolve to aggressively target civil society and press freedom as a threat to its monopoly on power

The sentence against Gao Yu, 71, comes amid a widening clampdown on free speech that highlights the gap between China’s vision of rule of law and Western notions of civil liberties and judicial fairness. The document Gao was convicted of leaking, deemed a state secret, underpins the clampdown under the 2 ½-year-old administration of Communist Party leader Xi Jinping.

The court verdict appears to confirm the authenticity of the leaked document, which had been reported since June 2013 but never was discussed openly by the leadership.

It verifies widely held assumptions about Xi’s distrust of any social organization outside party control, recently manifested in the more-than monthlong detentions of five women’s rights activists detained after planning to start a public awareness campaign about sexual harassment.

Gao had denied the charges, which could have carried a life sentence.

Gao’s lawyer Mo Shaoping said Gao was convicted of leaking state secrets by giving the strategy paper, known as Document No. 9, to an overseas media group. The document argued for aggressive curbs on the spread of Western democracy, universal values, civil society and press freedom, which the party considers a threat to its rule.

Another of Gao’s lawyers, Shang Baojun, said Gao did not speak during the verdict and sentencing, but told her brother, Gao Wei, that she could not accept the result. “We will definitely appeal,” Shang said.

Speaking to The Associated Press, Gao Wei said his sister appeared thinner and frailer than before her detention a year ago.

The court seemed to disregard Gao Yu’s defense lawyers but heard only the prosecution, Gao Wei said, a common complaint in such cases where the outcome is usually determined before the court meets.

“I’m very angry and concerned for my sister,” Gao Wei said.

Police patrolled the perimeter of Beijing’s No. 3 Intermediate Court where the verdict was delivered. Journalists and foreign diplomats gathered at the court but were denied entry to the hearing.

“We’re obviously disappointed with the verdict,” said U.S. Embassy First Secretary Dan Biers.

Gao, who wrote about politics, economics and social issues for media in Hong Kong and overseas, has already served time in prison on state secrets charges more than two decades ago.

In a statement, human rights watchdog Amnesty International said that Gao was the victim of vaguely worded and arbitrary state secrets law that is often used against activists to quell freedom of expression.

“This deplorable sentence against Gao Yu is nothing more than blatant political persecution by the Chinese authorities,” William Nee, the group’s China researcher, said in the statement.

The Hong Kong magazine to which Gao is alleged to have leaked the document, Minjing Monthly, issued a statement reiterating its contention that the charges against Gao were false. The magazine first reported on the document in August 2013.

The magazine suggested the document already had been circulated at the time when Gao is alleged to have leaked it. It also said the information contained neither military nor economic secrets, but was merely a “correct guidance” on ideological matters.

“This unjust judgment of an outstanding Chinese journalist utterly destroys Xi Jinping’s commitment to ‘rule according to law’,” the magazine said.

TIME Civil Rights

Why MLK Was Jailed in Birmingham

CIVIL RIGHTS MARCH
AP Photo Rev. Ralph Abernathy, left, and Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., right are taken by a policeman as they led a line of demonstrators into the business section of Birmingham, Ala., on April 12, 1963. This is the photograph that ran with TIME's original coverage of their arrests.

King wrote the famous Letter From a Birmingham Jail on April 16, 1963

In the spring of 1963, in Birmingham, Ala., it seemed like progress was finally being made on civil rights. The notoriously violent segregationist police commissioner “Bull” Connor had lost his run-off bid for mayor, and despite Martin Luther King Jr.’s declaration that the city was the most segregated in the nation, protests were starting to be met with quiet resignation rather than uproar.

At least that’s what TIME thought: in the April 19 issue of that year, under the headline “Poorly Timed Protest,” the magazine cast King as an outsider who did not consult the city’s local activists and leaders before making demands that set back Birmingham’s progress and drew Bull Connor’s ire. “Last week Connor and Police Chief Jamie Moore got an injunction against all demonstrations from a state court,” TIME reported. “King announced that he would ignore it, led some 1,000 Negroes toward the business district. Both King and one of his top aides, the Rev. Ralph D. Abernathy, were promptly thrown into jail.”

King was in jail for about a week before being released on bond, and it was clear that TIME’s editors weren’t the only group that thought he had made a misstep in Birmingham.

On the day of his arrest, a group of clergymen wrote an open letter in which they called for the community to renounce protest tactics that caused unrest in the community, to do so in court and “not in the streets.” It was that letter that prompted King to draft, on this day, April 16, the famous document known as Letter From a Birmingham Jail.

In 1967, King ended up spending another five days in jail in Birmingham, along with three others, after their appeals of their contempt convictions failed. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Walker v. City of Birmingham that they were in fact in contempt of court because they could not test the constitutionality of the injunction without going through the motions of applying for the parade permit that the city had announced they would not receive if they did apply for one. The decision prompted King to write, in a statement, that though he believed the Supreme Court decision set a dangerous precedent, he would accept the consequences willingly. “Our purpose when practicing civil disobedience is to call attention to the injustice or to an unjust law which we seek to change,” he wrote—and going to jail, and eloquently explaining why, would do just that.

Need more proof that the original letter was convincing? Though TIME dismissed the protests when they first occurred, that letter was included was included in the issue the following January in which King was named the Man of the Year for 1963. “Although in the tumble of events then and since, it never got the notice it deserved,” the magazine noted, “it may yet live as a classic expression of the Negro revolution of 1963.”

Read excerpts from the letter, which was included in Martin Luther King Jr’s Man of the Year cover story, here in the TIME Vault: Letter from a Birmingham Jail

TIME Culture

This Maya Angelou Stamp Has a Quote From Another Poet and Won’t be Reissued

First lady Michelle Obama participates in the unveiling of the Maya Angelou Forever Stamp, Tuesday, April 7, 2015, at the Warner Theater in Washington D.C.
Jacquelyn Martin—AP First lady Michelle Obama participates in the unveiling of the Maya Angelou Forever Stamp, Tuesday, April 7, 2015, at the Warner Theater in Washington D.C.

The U.S. Postal Service was made aware of the error earlier this week

The U.S. Postal Service said Wednesday it would not reissue a recently released Maya Angelou memorial stamp that prominently features a quote from another author.

USPS spokesman David Partenheimer told the New York Times that the quote — “A bird doesn’t sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song” — was often cited by the late poet during interviews, but it was written by Joan Walsh Anglund in 1967. (Angelou never took credit for the quotation.)

“The sentence held great meaning for her, and she is publicly identified with its popularity,” Partenheimer told the Times.

The USPS was made aware of the error on Monday by the Washington Post and told the newspaper they had not known the original, which appears in Anglud’s volume of verse A Cup of Sun.

The 89-year-old Anglund has taken the mistake in her stride. “I think it easily happens sometimes that people hear something, and it’s kind of going into your subconscious and you don’t realize it,” she told the Post.

This is not the first such mistake. President Obama falsely attributed the sentence to Angelou during the presentation of the 2013 National Medal of Arts and National Humanities Medal.

The stamp was released on Tuesday during an event in Washington D.C. that included First Lady Michelle Obama, Oprah Winfrey, activist and poet Nikki Giovanni and Angelou’s grandson Colin Johnson.

[New York Times]

TIME LGBT

Gay Student to Miss Prom After Louisiana School Says No Tux

The school's principal insists it's just a matter of dress code

A gay student in Louisiana has decided to miss her senior prom this year after her high school told her she can’t wear a tuxedo.

Claudetteia Love told The (Monroe, La.) News-Star that she thinks Carroll High School is using its dress code to condemn her sexual orientation.

“I told my mom, ‘They’re using me,'” she said. “They put me in all these honors and advanced placement classes so I can take all of these tests and get good grades and better the school, but when it’s time for me to celebrate the fact that I’ve accomplished what I need to accomplish and I’m about to graduate, they don’t want to let me do it, the way I want to.”

The school’s principal, Patrick Taylor, insisted to the newspaper that the tuxedo rule isn’t about sexual orientation, rather just an issue of dress code. Geraldine Jackson, the girl’s mother, said the principal told her that teachers said they would refuse to chaperone the event if the dress code wasn’t enforced. Jackson said he told her that “girls wear dresses and boys wear tuxes, and that’s the way it is.”

Now, in response to media coverage of the controversy, the local school board is getting involved.

“As school board president, I don’t agree with Carroll banning her from her prom just because of what she wants to wear — that’s discrimination,” Rodney McFarland, president of the Monroe City School Board, told the newspaper. “You can’t just go making up policies.”

[The News-Star]

TIME Civil Rights

9 Moving Reactions to Martin Luther King Jr.’s 1968 Assassination

Feb. 18, 1957
Cover Credit: BORIS CHALIAPIN King's first appearance on the cover of TIME, on Feb. 18, 1957

TIME readers wrote to the magazine in the aftermath of the 1968 crime

When Martin Luther King Jr. was shot and killed in Memphis on April 4, 1968, it was, TIME declared, “both a symbol and a symptom of the nation’s racial malaise.” King had been in the Tennessee city to support a garbage-collectors’ strike, and was staying at an inexpensive motel, having been chastened for originally booking a stay at a place perceived as too fancy. He stepped out onto the motel “to take the evening air,” per TIME, and talk with co-workers. It was then that a bullet left a nearby building and found the civil-rights leader.

In the tumultuous weeks that followed the assassination, TIME readers responded with a flood of letters to the editor. Some of the most moving, from the April 19 and April 26 issues, are below.

From Joyce K. Laird of Lafayette, Calif.:

Sir: Martin Luther King was murdered because he was our uncomfortable conscience. I am filled with shame and loathing for my race. My heart grieves for his family and friends who must abruptly substitute memories for his warm reality. My mind cries out to know how I, one single me, insulated in my white suburb, can redress the ancient wrongs.

From John Barry of Los Angeles:

Sir: His great, huge face is set forever in our memories; be it that his vision of brotherhood sets in our hearts.

From James Thompson, a pastor in West Branch, Iowa:

Sir: Why must we always kill our prophets before we will listen to them?

From Dorothy S. Saunders of Cherry Hill, N.J.:

Sir: When statesmen look to give aid to the uncivilized and underdeveloped countries of the world, please let ours be first on their list.

From Douglas P. Adams, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology:

Sir: President Johnson last month told 200 Southern Baptist leaders, “There is no Southern or Northern problem, only an American problem, when it comes to the rights of citizens. The only lasting solution won’t cost a cent—but it will be the hardest to achieve.” He then said this would require a change in men’s hearts—in the way they see and treat their neighbors. No other white leader’s remarks and few colored spokesmen have isolated and described so well the deep and festering wound responsible for the outbreaks—namely, the long-ingrained conviction and the sustained conduct in and by millions of whites that the Negro is an inferior person. The glib, commonplace expression “free, white and twenty-one” epitomizes this ghastly and disastrous view. The noise and smoke in urban areas are but echoes of battles lost in homes, schools and churches where moment by moment the American character is forged. It should be obvious that, in country or city, the Negro throughout this nation will continue to fight desperately for the honest answer to his plight—for equality status. Why? Simply because being an American has come to signify to him what it does for the rest of us—the dignity of the individual. It is those who would deprive him of this heritage who are totally irresponsible and utterly unAmerican.

From Deborah Preble of Pasadena, Calif.:

Sir: How do you explain “[n—-r]” to the tearful face of a six-year-old? That the zoo is for whites only? How do you enlist a soldier to lay down his life for freedom—of which he knows not? How do you tell a young mother to teach her young that tear gas, dogs and fiery crosses should instill a zest for self-dignity? How do you tell the world that a great man, a black man, has been shot by a white man for wanting to be a free man?

From Mrs. John Vadnais of St. Paul:

Sir: Most of the time I was indifferent to the Rev. Martin Luther King‘s activities. Occasionally I scoffed at his publicity, although I was unconsciously reassured that someone was doing something for humanity. But I cried at his murder. Possibly King’s beautiful dream will ultimately result in his being remembered as a man, not a black man. The first step was taken as a thoughtful America united in mourning for a martyred leader. At any rate, our flag waved in a fellow American’s memory.

From Rev. Lewis P. Bohler Jr. of Los Angeles:

Sir: As a Negro, I, too, must bear my share of the shame and horror of Dr. King’s untimely death. Whether I burn or kill (by God’s grace, I hope to do neither), I am associated with those who do. And we dare to point indiscriminate accusing fingers at whites. The answer to whether Dr. King labored in vain will not be determined alone by the success or failure of civil rights legislation or by improvement of housing and economic opportunities for minorities, but also by the degree to which all of us, blacks and whites, are committed to the pursuit and practice of nonviolence and love. Any commitment short of total is a farce.

From P. Sudhir of Madras, India:

Sir: Twice within five years, we had to hear from the land that all others strive to emulate, the harsh, frightening crack of an assassin’s rifle. The shots that were echoing around the world after the death of John F. Kennedy, shaking the belief that the U.S.A. is the last place where the courage of an individual to fight against man’s inhumanity to man would be met with the cruel bullet of an assassin, had hardly died away. And now Dr. King is dead, crucified on the cross hairs of a madman’s telescopic sights. Yes, that is the excuse we give ourselves. It is the work of a demented individual. Perhaps if we repeat it often enough, we might even come to believe it.

Read TIME’s full coverage of the assassination, here in the TIME Vault: April 12, 1968

TIME Civil Rights

The Photograph That Captured the Horror of MLK’s Assassination

Civil rights leader Andrew Young (L) and others standing on balcony of Lorraine motel pointing in direction of assailant after assassination of civil rights ldr. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who is lying at their feet.
Joseph Louw—The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images Civil rights leader Andrew Young (L) and others standing on balcony of Lorraine motel pointing in direction of assailant after assassination of civil rights ldr. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who is lying at their feet.

On April 4, 1968, a young South African photographer trained his lens on the aftermath of tragedy

Had Joseph Louw decided to finish his dinner on April 4, 1968, the photographs that captured the horror of Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination may never have come to be. Louw, a young South African photographer and filmmaker at work on a documentary about King, had been eating dinner in a Memphis restaurant during the hour before tragedy struck. A sudden urge to watch the NBC nightly news brought him back to the Lorraine Motel, where he soon heard a single shot fired.

Louw, who was staying three doors down from King, immediately rushed onto the balcony, where he saw King collapse to the ground. After realizing there was nothing he could do to help, he ran inside to get his camera. “At first,” he told LIFE the following week, “it was just a matter of realizing the horror of the thing. Then I knew I must record it for the world to see.”

Louw captured the chaos and emotion that hovered over that April evening. He shot four rolls of film, but one image in particular remains emblazoned on the memories of those alive to see it at the time. In the moments following the shot, as King lay unconscious on the balcony, his comrades turned their attention to a sight in the distance: the assassin, getting away. They pointed their fingers in concert in the direction of his flight.

Louw rushed to the studio of fellow photographer Ernest C. Withers to develop the film. As he did, his hands shook. “I remember the last stage of developing,” he said. “It was the longest 10 minutes of my life. The first picture I looked at was Dr. King laying behind the railing. I never did photograph him full in the face. I felt I had to keep my distance and respect.”

TIME Civil Rights

Ole Miss Student Who Hung Noose on Statue Indicted on Civil Rights Charges

University of Mississippi Campus
Wesley Hitt—Getty Images James H. Meredith statue on the campus of the University of Mississippi on April 12, 2008 in Oxford, Miss.

The statue was of James Meredith, the first black student to attend Ole Miss

The man who tied a noose around the neck of a statue of James Meredith at Ole Miss last year will face federal civil rights charges, the Justice Department announced Friday, as the prank was intended to “intimidate” black students and faculty at the school.

Graeme Phillip Harris will face federal charges for hanging a noose and an outdated Georgia flag around the statue of James Meredith, who in 1962 became the first black student to attend Ole Miss. According to the Justice Department, Harris “conspired with others under the cover of darkness” to execute the prank, which the indictment said was intended to “threaten and intimidate” black students at the University.

“This shameful and ignorant act is an insult to all Americans and a violation of our most strongly-held values,” Attorney General Eric Holder said in a statement. “No one should ever be made to feel threatened or intimidated because of what they look like or who they are. By taking appropriate action to hold wrongdoers accountable, the Department of Justice is sending a clear message that flagrant infringements of our historic civil rights will not go unnoticed or unpunished.”

Harris and his co-conspirators were members of Sigma Phi Epsilon, and their actions (along with other hazing incidents) prompted the national organization to suspend the Ole Miss Chapter, according to an email to members from Grand President Philip Cox.

 

TIME Religion

George Takei Asks Twitter Followers to #BoycottIndiana Over Religious Objections Law

Critics say the Religious Freedom Restoration Act legalizes discrimination

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence signed a bill into law Thursday that allows business owners to deny same-sex couples service on religious grounds, then quickly defended it. Within hours, Star Trek actor and LGBT activist George Takei took his outrage to Twitter using the hashtag #BoycottIndiana, which began trending.

Democratic lawmakers, LGBT rights activists and civil liberties groups have argued that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act legalizes discrimination. And other celebrities aside from Takei have questioned Pence’s decision to sign the bill. On Monday, Jason Collins—the first openly gay NBA player—tweeted at the Governor, asking him if he will be discriminated against when he attends the Final Four of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament in Indianapolis next week.

On Thursday, the Indianapolis-based NCAA, expressed its own doubts. “We are especially concerned about how this legislation could affect our student-athletes and employees,” NCAA President Mark Emmert said in a statement.

Several other businesses plan to protest the law by denying Indiana their business. The gamer convention Gen Con threatened in a letter to pull its event out of Indianapolis when its contract with the city ends, and Mark Benioff, CEO of the $43 billion tech company Salesforce, said company will no longer proceed with its plans to expand to the state.

Read next: Indiana Governor Defends Signing of Religious Objections Bill

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME Civil Rights

How a Little-Known Government Agency Kept the Peace in Selma

Former Governor LeRoy Collins mediating during civil rights march - Selma, Alabama
State Archives of Florida Former Governor LeRoy Collins, walking between Andrew Young and Martin Luther King Jr., mediating during civil rights march, Alabama, 1965.

On the 50th anniversary of the Selma marchers’ arrival in Montgomery, a look back at the role of LeRoy Collins and the Community Relations Service

A photograph has the power to change minds and open them, reveal truths and distort them. It also has the power to lose elections, as this photograph of LeRoy Collins marching from Selma, Ala., to Montgomery with civil rights leaders demonstrated when Collins ran for U.S. Senate in 1968.

The real story, though, is not only in the consequences the photo engendered after it was taken, but also in the events that led Collins to the front of the march on that early spring day, sandwiched between Andrew Young and Martin Luther King Jr.

Two weeks before the photograph was made, the brutal events of “Bloody Sunday” had horrified almost anyone with access to a television or newspaper: King and many others had attempted a protest march from Selma to Montgomery, but they had been turned back with violence at the Edmund Pettus Bridge. President Johnson hoped to stave off the violence and media attention a second attempt at reaching the state capital would surely yield. But, despite a pending restraining order placed on the march by a federal judge, King planned to move forward. He was going to try again just a few days later, on March 9, 1965.

So Johnson dispatched Collins, a former Florida governor who had been appointed to direct the newly formed Community Relations Service (CRS), to keep an already escalating situation from erupting uncontrollably. CRS, which had been established under the 1964 Civil Rights Act as the peacemaking arm of the Department of Justice, was charged with mediating community conflicts rooted in race, religion and other human differences. The tensions in Selma fit squarely in the agency’s wheelhouse.

Collins, who had never met King before that day, attempted to broker a deal in which King would stop the march on the bridge and then turn around, in exchange for which Alabama State Trooper Colonel Al Lingo would agree not to use force. Both King and Lingo offered tepid agreement, and when the pivotal moment arrived, both men kept their word. King led a brief prayer and song and instructed surprised marchers to about-face, a move that caused the day to later be nicknamed “Turnaround Tuesday.”

The halt surprised the press as much as it did the marchers. According an account of the day’s events by Collins’ biographer, Martin Dyckman, the CRS’ arrival in Selma had gone unannounced, as the agency’s establishing law required it to operate without publicity.

Collins remained in Alabama to negotiate with city and state officials in Montgomery, as the date neared for a third attempt to complete the walk from Selma. That walk, which began March 21, was ultimately successful: King and his followers reached the state capital on March 25, 1965, a half-century ago today.

It was during the second day of marching that Collins reached the head of the line to discuss plans for the coming days with King, Young and other leaders. The photograph that captured their brief conference would appear on the front pages of newspapers across Florida the following day.

When Collins was nominated by the Democratic Party to fill a vacant U.S. Senate seat in 1968, the photograph reemerged, not as a demonstration of the CRS’ success in mediating the marches, but as a campaign tactic by Collins’ Republican opponent. Many Florida voters, not realizing his role as a mediator, perceived the photo as an image of Collins helping to lead the march. In a southern state that was far from progressive on civil-rights issues, this perception sounded the death knell for Collins’ chances in the election—and his career in politics.

But for Collins, the career he traded for peace in Selma—or at least as much peace as one agency could hope to achieve—was a worthy barter. His daughter Jane Aurell recently told the Miami Herald that Collins never regretted the work he did in Selma: “He would never have undone what he did.”

Read TIME’s 1955 cover story on LeRoy Collins’ Florida governorship, here in the TIME Vault: Florida: A Place in the Sun

TIME LGBT

Puerto Rico Drops Opposition to Gay Marriage

"Today is a great day for my island," wrote Puerto Rican superstar Ricky Martin.

The Puerto Rican government announced on Friday that it would drop its opposition to same-sex marriage.

Justice Secretary Cesar Miranda said at a news conference that the Puerto Rican justice department would no longer oppose a suit challenging the constitutionality of the socially conservative island’s ban.

“Our constitutional system does not allow discriminatory distinctions such as that contained in the Civil Code concerning the rights of same-sex couples,” Gov. Alejandro Garcia Padilla said in a statement posted to his office’s website. “Everyone knows my religious beliefs, but it is not for political leaders to impose our beliefs. We must push for progress in civil and human rights for all citizens equally. As Governor of Puerto Rico, that’s my duty.”

Puerto Rico native Ricky Martin, who has advocated for gay rights since he announced he was gay in 2010, said on Twitter that he was grateful for the move.

In a lengthier statement, the singer called Padilla a “leader who is not afraid of the present challenges.”

“Today is a great day for my island,” he wrote. “How proud I am to live a country of equality. I love you Puerto Rico.”

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