Chinese activist sentenced to year in labour camp for Twitter joke
Dinah Gardner:
Chinese activist sentenced to year in labour camp for twitter joke
21 Nov 10

Wangyi09’s twitter feed stops abruptly at 7:45AM on October 28. According to human rights groups, the Chinese rights activist, whose real name is Cheng Jianping, was detained later that day for a satirical tweet she had posted on October 17 which mocked anti-Japanese protesters by urging them to destroy the Japanese pavilion at the Shanghai Expo. Her husband-to-be, Hua Chunhui, also a rights activist, said the day she was grabbed by police was to have been their wedding day.

Hua had posted the original tweet which read: “”Anti-Japanese demonstrations, smashing Japanese products, that was all done years ago by Guo Quan [an activist and expert on the Nanjing Massacre]. It’s no new trick. If you really wanted to kick it up a notch, you’d immediately fly to Shanghai to smash the Japanese Expo pavilion.” Cheng re-tweeted it, adding the comment: “Angry youth! Charge!”

According to Radio Free Asia (RFA), who spoke to Chen Lei, a deputy chief of police in Xinxiang town, Henan province, Cheng was sentenced to a year of re-education through labour (RTL) on 15 November for “disturbing social order.” Cheng’s age is unclear. Some reports cite her as 46, others as in her twenties. The BBC reports that she is now being held in Shibali River women’s labour camp in Zhengzhou city in Henan.

Two days later, Amnesty came out with a statement calling for her release. “Sentencing someone to a year in a labour camp, without trial, for simply repeating another person’s clearly satirical observation on Twitter demonstrates the level of China’s repression of online expression,” said Sam Zarifi, the organization’s Asia-Pacific director.

Amnesty adds that the police may have been watching Cheng because she had been working as an online activist for several years, including showing support for imprisoned dissident and this year’s Nobel Peace Prize winner, Liu Xiaobo. Cheng’s twitter account shows her as following the Dalai Lama’s and Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei’s twitter feeds among others.