Labor Camp Blogger Speaks Out

Chinese authorities move against a writer who exposed their involvement in a casino.

china-internet-censor-305.jpg Internet surfers at a cafe in Beijing, Jan. 15, 2009.

A blogger who served one year and nine months in labor camp after exposing official corruption on the overseas Chinese-language website Boxun said he will continue to fight for compensation after state security police threatened his family.

"This morning, several officers from the Shenyang municipal national security police burst into my relatives' home and started threatening them and intimidating them verbally," said Sun Haiyang, who was sentenced in early 2009 after he wrote a series of articles about officials' involvement in a local casino.

"They don't want me to speak out about this miscarriage of justice, and they don't want all the news about this protected casino to come out in the media for even more people to read," Sun said.

"So, when they couldn't find me, they started threatening and intimidating my relatives."

Sun, who said he had already received a beating in June 2007, of which a video recording was available online, vowed to keep up the struggle to tell his story and fight for his rights.

"I did nothing to break the law," he said. "It seems fairly clear to me that this is an act of revenge against people who work in the media."

Corrupt officials

Sun said he began writing about the local casino on a news blog hosted by the U.S.-based Boxun, which is blocked inside China.

"The local officials hated me, because I reported that they all had shares in the casino," he said.

"I revealed a dark side of corruption among the local judiciary, and so local officials took their revenge against me."

Sun's lawyer said he has so far been unsuccessful in lodging an official complaint against Sun's sentence to "re-education through labor," an administrative punishment which can be handed down for up to three years without a trial.

"The authorities haven't provided him with the decision document [from the re-education through labor committee] ever since he was released last year," said lawyer Wen Haibo.

"We tried to get it from the Heping district police, but they were afraid we'd use it to pursue some sort of legal challenge, so they wouldn't give it to us, even though we went round a number of departments ... We didn't succeed in getting it back from any of them."

Sun was first detained on Jan. 9, 2009 after he wrote an article for Boxun four days earlier about illegal parking by a vehicle belonging to the Shenhe district police department.

According to local sources, the article led to the criticism of the Shenhe police department at a municipal-level meeting six months later.

Increased attacks

Overseas rights groups say press freedoms came under greater attack in China in 2010, amid increased government censorship and attacks on individual journalists.

While Chinese journalists and intellectuals now increasingly use social networking tools like Facebook and Twitter to disseminate information, the authorities have stepped up reprisals against those whose reporting steps across officially defined boundaries of acceptable reporting.

The Paris-based media rights watchdog Reporters Without Borders listed China as 171st, or eighth from the bottom, on its Press Freedom Index 2010.

The group has documented previous cases of apparent reprisals against Boxun bloggers and citizen journalists, including a four-year jail term for Nanjing-based journalist Sun Lin in 2007.

Reported by Fang Yuan for RFA's Mandarin service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.


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