UPDATED at 10:02 A.M. EST on 2015-07-31
Chinese citizen journalist Yang Dongying, a contributor to the Sichuan-based Tianwang rights website, was detained by police in the eastern province of Zhejiang on June 24 on suspicion of “picking quarrels and stirring up trouble.”
Her detention came after she publicly criticized police for their interrogation and harassment of her 13-year-old son, who has since been hospitalized.
Yang spoke to RFA’s Cantonese Service after she was released on bail, a status under which her movements are still controlled and restricted by police.
“I’m out on bail right now, beginning May 19,” Yang said. “Since then, the state prosecutor indicted me at the court. That was on June 24. The charges on the indictment were “picking quarrels and stirring up trouble.”
“There is a likelihood that I’ll be sent inside, be given a prison sentence. That’s what they told me,” she said.
Yang said local police had kept up a psychological campaign targeting her 13-year-old son, who already had a diagnosed mental illness.
“Five police officers from the Datang township police station in [Zhejiang’s] Zhuji city grabbed him from where he was lying in bed and took him away,” Yang told RFA.
“They took him to the police station, where they threatened him, saying that they would hold his mom in criminal detention,” she said.
“They said they would release him if he gave his fingerprints and signed his name.”
If Yang’s son didn’t agree to give fingerprints, the police would keep him there, they told him.
Yang added: “After school started, the police went several times to his school to keep up the pressure on him.”
“My kid already suffered from depression, and after that, his illness got worse.”
The latest in a long list
Paris-based press freedom group Reporters Without Borders said Yang is the latest in a long list of Tianwang citizen journalists and human rights activities to be detained.
They include citizen-journalist Wang Jing, who was arrested in the northeastern province of Jilin in January on a charge of disturbing public order. Her mother says she has become critically ill in detention, the group said in a statement on its website last Friday.
Meanwhile, Yang’s daughter has begun to develop symptoms of autism, it said.
The group said at least three other Tianwang contributors have been detained since January.
Group founder Huang Qi said the detentions were a direct retaliation for the Tianwang journalists’ free speech activism.
“Last year, [the activists] went to an international meeting on the Internet at Hongwu township in Zhejiang to protest at obstacles to online freedom, and to call for an end to the persecution of online rights activists,” Huang told RFA.
“The authorities made it clear to them at the time that there would be a reckoning.”
Huang added: “We think that the aim of this round of persecution is to block the spread of online information about rights activism.”
Reported by Ka Pa and Lin Jing for RFA’s Cantonese Service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.
CORRECTION: An earlier version erroneously showed a photo of another activist instead of Yang Dongying.