By: Jessica Ties
Impunity Watch, Asia
BEIJING, China – In February China launched a campaign against dissent that has resulted in the detention of those criticizing the Chinese government without giving the accused a trial.
Chinese blogger Fang Hong was detained on April 24 and sentenced to serve one year in a Chongqing re-education labor camp for using a blog to mock the chief of Chongqing’s Communist party, Bo Xilai, despite his removal of the blog post following the orders of web censors.
Hong’s blog arose from Chongqing’s prosecution of a lawyer, Mr. Li, who defended a man being prosecuted for perjury. Mr. Li was himself charged after his former client testified that he had encouraged him to make false torture allegations. However, many believe that Mr. Li was framed by the government for opposing the campaign of Bo Xilai. Mr. Li was convicted and sentenced to two and a half years in prison.
The April 21 blog, which was posted to the Chinese social network Tencent, accused Bo Xilai of having excessive influence over Chongqing’s court system by comparing the case made against Mr. Li to excrement that Bo Xilai had delivered to Mr. Li who then returned it to Bo Xilai. The post then used Bo Xilai’s name in a sexual pun.
According to Fang Hong’s son, Fang Di, government discomfort with the blog post began to manifest when his father was told to go to the police station, his home was placed under surveillance and his electricity and gas were turned off. A post on a human rights website states that Fang Di vanished Tuesday after he had notified his lawyer that he was at the public security police office.
Over the past year, Bo Xilai has become known for promoting a campaign to revive Maoism by reviving Mao-era songs and instigating a violent crackdown on corruption which has been opposed by many who believe such a revival to be dangerous. Last month, following the detention of Fang Hong, China set up a command center dedicated to controlling the information that can be found on the internet which has left many fearful that internet regulation will soon become even more severe.
Rights lawyer Ma Gangquan stated in an interview that “Education through labor itself is illegal because the practice has already been annulled by law. But currently, the punishment is still used by police…”
For more information, please see:
New York Times – Scatological Mockery of Chinese Official Brings Swift Penalty – 8 June 2011
Bloomberg – Chinese Blogger Jailed for a Year After Writing About Party Chief, FT Says – 7 June 2011
Financial Times – Dissent Lands Chinese Blogger in Labour Camp – 7 June 2011
Radio Free Asia – Netizen ‘Re-educated’ for Online Rant – 6 June 2011