Yang Maodong, a human rights activist who has long been at the forefront of contentious causes in southern China, will stand trial there this week on a charge of assembling a crowd to disrupt public order, his lawyer and his sister said on Tuesday. They said Mr. Yang was sure to fight the charge, despite being equally certain that he would be convicted and imprisoned.
Mr. Yang, who is better known by his pen name, Guo Feixiong, will be the latest prominent rights advocate to face trial for his part in small but attention-getting protests that rippled across China starting two years ago, when Xi Jinping assumed leadership of the Communist Party. One of Mr. Yang’s lawyers, Zhang Xuezhong, said a court official in Guangzhou, the capital of Guangdong Province, had notified him that Mr. Yang and another defendant, Sun Desheng, would be tried on Friday.
“We’ll be defending him as innocent,” Mr. Zhang, a lawyer in Shanghai who lost his job as a university lecturer after his outspoken advocacy of free speech, said by telephone.
“This doesn’t amount to a crime, but taking into account the current political situation, I can only say that I’m not at all optimistic about the outcome,” Mr. Zhang said. “But as his defense, we’ll do our best to demonstrate his innocence.”
Mr. Yang’s sister, Yang Maoping, confirmed the trial date and Mr. Yang’s plans to fight the charges in a brief telephone interview. Officials at the Tianhe District People’s Court in Guangzhou, where the trial will be held, would not comment.
For a decade, Mr. Yang has been well known in Guangdong as an advocate and adviser of citizens protesting land confiscations, home demolitions, police abuses and other grievances against officialdom. He and other rights activists in Guangzhou also rallied around demands that the Communist Party disclose officials’ wealth as part of promises to fight corruption that Mr. Xi made when he assumed power in November 2012.