Tang Hui, whose daughter was kidnapped, raped and sold to a brothel six years ago, should be bitter but is calmly resolute in her fight for justice
Tang Hui appears calm yet preoccupied a week after losing a court fight for compensation from local officials who sent her to a labour camp. Without a trace of bitterness, she goes about her daily routine: cooking rice for breakfast, running her flower shop and preparing paperwork for an appeal.
“I will appeal. I did nothing wrong to deserve being sent to a labour camp,” she told the South China Morning Post. “I wish the ‘re-education through labour’ system would be abolished, or other innocent people will become victims, like me.”
The diminutive 40-year-old is fighting a lonely and difficult campaign to demand compensation from government officials who put her in a labour camp for nine days in August.
Tang is famous. She became known as the “petition mother” for her desperate and tireless visits to government authorities to demand justice for her daughter. Seven years ago, seven men abducted, raped and sold her only daughter, then 11 years old, to a local underground brothel. She was kept there for three months.
Lingling, where Tang lives, is the largest district of Yongzhou city, more than 300 kilometres south of Changsha, the capital of Hunan province. With a population of 610,000, Lingling struggles with poverty and is underdeveloped economically. Shabby shops line narrow streets in its old town. At night, red and yellow neon lights advertise sex shops. Fliers featuring call girls are scattered around hotels.
Tang’s life used to be peaceful. Her family ran a small restaurant near a nursing school. Then her daughter went missing at the beginning of October 2006.
Tang said she went to search for her daughter herself after police efforts failed. Nearly three months later, she spotted the underground brothel where her daughter was held. But when she called one district police officer, he declined to help. Tang eventually called the emergency number 110 several times, and police responders helped her save her daughter. When she asked that the kidnappers be arrested, the local police office did not immediately file the case or conduct further investigations.
It is normal for a victim’s mother to wish for the severest punishment on the criminals. It would be abnormal to do otherwise. The law cannot control my heart, while my heart cannot change the law
That is how Tang began a long process of petitioning for justice, first at the provincial level, then in Beijing. Slowly, local authorities started to act. In June last year, her daughter’s two main kidnappers were sentenced to death, four accomplices received life sentences and one was jailed for 15 years.
But Tang wants more.
“I know it is impossible to sentence all of them to death. But my daughter’s life is ruined, and I want the criminals to die. I’m afraid they might harm more people if they are out there,” she said.
“It is normal for a victim’s mother to wish for the severest punishment on the criminals. It would be abnormal to do otherwise,” she added. “The law cannot control my heart, while my heart cannot change the law.”
Tang’s daughter was diagnosed with herpes, an incurable sexually transmitted disease, and she also suffers from psychological trauma. After seeking medical care to stabilise her daughter’s condition, Tang sent her to a boarding school under the close supervision of a relative.
“It’s better for her to be far away from the nightmare here. But I have to stay in Yongzhou to watch the final judgment of the court proceedings,” she said. “I phone her every day and try to visit her once a month.”
At home, Tang still keeps her daughter’s room the way she left it. Amid the blackened walls and cracked wooden furniture, the room is the brightest in the house because of its natural lighting. White sheets with pink roses remain untouched on a double bed. Hanging on the wall, a large picture features two chunky infants with large eyes and cute smiles.
Across the room, the words on two ink paintings read: “Sorrow has frozen in fleeting time.” Tang said her daughter, now 17, wrote the phrase during a visit last year.
Tang said her daughter had become very quiet since the kidnapping. At the boarding school, she has made a few friends among the girls, but she stays away from all of the boys. Once, Tang received a call from a teacher when her daughter was heard singing loudly in the middle of the night. The teenager had told her mother that she had to sing because she felt oppressed.
“Singing is the only hobby she has kept from before [the kidnapping]. Her favourite song is Invisible Wings,” said Tang with a smile, referring to a pop song by Zhang Shaohan.
The song’s lyrics go:
Every time I wander in loneliness I become stronger. Every time I’m deeply hurt, I hold back my glimmering tears. Because I know I will always have a pair of invisible wings. They let me fly, passing despair.
The determined Tang continues to campaign for death sentences for the other five kidnappers despite her spell in a labour camp. Tang was sentenced to 18 months of re-education at the Zhuzhou Baimalong labour camp, about two hours by bus north of her hometown. The reason given was that her protests “seriously disturbed the social order and exerted a negative impact on society”, Xinhua reported.
“Citizens have the right to petition,” Tang said. She said she had petitioned more than two dozen times in Beijing and about twice as many times in Hunan. But authorities in her hometown follow strict petition evaluation rules to reduce the number of cases that go forward.
Tang remembers her first day in the labour camp; it was August 2, last year. The staff forcefully cut her hair short. “I used to have long black hair,” she recalls with anger. “Then they asked me to recite the di zi gui [Standards for Being a Good Student and Child]. I just could not do it.”
Di zi gui, started by a Qing dynasty educator, uses outlines from the Analects of Confucius to teach people to respect their parents, love their siblings, care for all people and to become a trustworthy person. Tang said she failed to identify with the standards because her heart was elsewhere. “I was worried about my daughter. And I am not a bad person. I respect my parents and others,” she said.
Two lawyers representing Tang sparked a public outcry after they exposed her story on microblogs. Hundreds of thousands of Weibo users called for Tang’s release and demanded that authorities stop their unfair treatment of her.
“Without my lawyers and the public’s efforts, I would not have been released so soon,” she said. “I felt hopelessness in those nine days under detention. It felt as long as nine centuries because I thought I was alone. I had no idea there were so many people supporting me outside.”
China imported the re-education through labour or labour camp system from the Soviet Union and passed related laws on August 1, 1957. The camps were established to detain inmates, force them to do penal labour and re-educate criminals without going through a formal trial. Detention periods vary from one year to as many as four years. In the Cultural Revolution, many state leaders, including Deng Xiaoping, were put into labour camps during purges.
Hundreds of labour camps still exist today, mostly housing political prisoners and dissidents. Inmates can appeal, but rarely succeed. In December, Chongqing municipality rejected an appeal from 25-year-old Ren Jianyu, who was re-educated at a labour camp for a year until November for spreading “negative information” online and “inciting subversion of state power”.
But talk of labour-camp reform has surfaced lately. Xinhua reported in January that China planned to reform its “controversial re-education through labour system”. So far, there is no indication when changes may come.
“When you hold different opinions, they will find whatever excuses necessary to put you into a labour camp,” Tang said.
“Only because I have experienced it, I know how painful the experience is to a person. I’m just a mother who wants justice for my daughter.”
Tang is now preparing to appeal after her administrative lawsuit was rejected in Yongzhou Intermediate People’s Court. She is seeking about 1,500 yuan (HK$1,800) for infringement of her freedom, 1,000 yuan for moral damages and a written apology from the Yongzhou re-education committee.
SCMPTang’s Beijing-based lawyer Si Weijiang told the Post that her case exposed the cruelty of the labour camp system and the deep harm it could have on a person.
“We are appealing within 10 days. We may not win … however, the public can see which side is just and can demand that the re-education system be halted,” he said.
The lawyer said Tang used to be an ordinary mother, but her daughter’s tragedy and the injustice of her case have pushed her into the spotlight as a bold petitioner.
“I hope she will not get stuck in the system. At some point, she should stop petitioning and start a normal life with her family,” he said.
Tang believes in her innocence, as there is no evidence that the Yongzhou re-education committee can prove she disturbed the social order. Tang is also awaiting the final judgment on her daughter’s case. She plans to move away with her family to start a new life when the trials are all over.
“But I have one regret in my heart,” she said. “I failed to warn my daughter that there are bad people out there.”
Source: SCMP “’Petition mother’ Tang Hui’s determined fight for justice over daughter’s rape”
Reblog of Patrick Boehler’s blog at SCMP on Friday, 12 April, 2013
A court in Hunan has denied compensation to a former labour camp inmate in a what could have been landmark case in Hunan on Friday. Tang Hui had sought damages from the Yongzhou government department that had put her in the camp for infringing on her personal freedom.
Last August, Tang was sentenced to 18 months in a labour camp by the local re-education through labour (laojiao) commission for petitioning for a harsher verdict for the men who had raped her daughter.
The national outrage caused by Tang’s ordeal led to a reversal of sentence within a week. It also spurred a debate about the abolition of the re-education through labour system that lacks judicial oversight. Two provinces, Guangdong and Yunnan, announced their intention earlier this year to put an end to the practice.
In January, Tang attempted in vain to challenge her sentence in an administrative lawsuit. She then took the commission to court demanding a written apology, damages amounting to 1,000 yuan (HK$1,254) and compensation of 1,463.85 yuan for taking her personal freedom.
Many media outlets, including the Beijing News and the Guangzhou Daily, sent reporters to cover the hearing. Except national media, all were barred from doing so on Friday at the Yongzhou Intermediary People’s Court.
Si Weijiang, one of Tang’s two lawyers, told the reporters during a break that the head of the Yongzhou re-education through labour commission, who is also a deputy mayor and the head of the local public security bureau, refused to appear in court, because, he said, he was busy dealing with a traffic matter.
In the late afternoon the court turned down Tang’s request for compensation and an apology. She can appeal to the Hunan Supreme People’s Court within 15 days.
“If I win, my laojiao [ordeal] comes to an end,” she told journalists a day ahead of the hearing. “If I lose, I will sue again.”
In October 2006, her then 11-year-old daughter was abducted and raped more than a hundred times before being rescued three months later. A Hunan court sentenced two of the abductors to death, four others were given life sentences, one person was convicted to fifteen years in prison.
Tang was not satisfied with the verdict. Saying that the sentences were too lenient, she alleged that the evidence had been falsified and that her daughter’s identification of two local police officers as rapists had intentionally been ignored by investigators.
“They don’t want to create a precedent for wider requests for compensation,” said Joshua Rosenzweig, a researcher at the Centre for China Studies at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.
“This probably is the most well-known case of re-education through labour ever, given the coverage it has gotten. With the recent exposure [of conditions at a women's labour camp] in Liaoning, this would have been an opportunity to show some good news.”
Source: SCMP Patrick Boehler’s blog “Former labour camp inmate Tang Hui denied compensation”
SCMP says in its report today titled “Women ‘chained up and tortured’ in labour camp”, “A rarely seen report by a Chinese monthly has exposed some of the dark practices of a Liaoning labour camp including torture and inhuman treatment of female prisoners at a time when the government has vowed to reform the country’s notorious, decades-old labour camp system.
“The claims, reported by Lens, part of the leading SEEC Media Group, are based on accounts of provincial procurators, former camp officials and former and current prisoners.”
According to SCMP, “The report, a rare look inside a Chinese labour camp, did not last long in the Chinese cyber sphere. It was taken down by all Chinese news portals except one as of Monday afternoon, only hours after it was put online and widely reposted.”
The malpractices were severely denounced on the internet by web users. Perhaps, that was why the report was soon taken down by all Chinese news portals. I searched the report at people.com.net and found the title of a piece of report titled “Bare the mystery of women’s reeducation through labor camp: inmates on torture rack or bound on ‘bed for the deceased’ and pregnant inmates forced to work” with a short summary beneath, but I cannot find the whole story at its listed website: http://bj.people.com.cn/GB/n/2013/0408/c233086-18419030.html
The report on soho.com is no longer available, but that on sina.com.cn remains at http://news.sina.com.cn/c/2013-04-07/225326754951.shtml
It’s a story horrible to read through; therefore, I prefer to translate the full text of the following Singtao Daily’s much shorter report to provide readers some of the information:
Corporal punishment, electric shock that destroys inmates’ appearance, imprisonment in a tiny room, “full shackles”, being put on a torture rack, being tied tightly on the “bed for the deceased” …
Some petitioners who have been imprisoned in the reeducation-through-labor camp and are petitioning, have recently made complaints with blood and tears about the hell on earth in Masanjia reeducation-through-labor camp. They have provided physical evidence and written records to prove their complaints about the inhuman torment and torture that the guards in the camp inflicted on the inmates. The victims have gone to the Bureau of Letter and Calls to petition for years in vain.
As the new central leading group is making decision to abolish the reeducation-through-labor system, the report has roused vehement response. Liaoning Province says that it has set up a team of investigation to look into the matters.
Portals including people.com.cn report that Masanjia Women’s Reeducation through Labor Camp is the camp that has taken all females who receive reeducation through labor in Liaoning Province. It is a camp with an area of 2,000 hectares located at the western suburb of Shenyang City that for a time imprisoned 5,000 women.
In early February, 2013, a woman released from the camp hid in her vagina and brought out a letter of complaints jointly written by lots of inmates with blood and tears. Previously, a few women brought out in a similar manner quite a few records of torments inflicted by the guards there. Those records have now been made public:
“Mei Qiuyu was pushed down on the ground by the team leader of guards, who stamped on Mei’s leg with her foot in a high-heel shoe, turned her foot and left a hole on the leg, which festered for months.”
“Wang Suzhi was beaten in her head with her head pushed on a board as the pockets on the military coats she had ironed failed to meet the standards. She became stupid after the beating and was regarded as having mental disorder in the hospital.”
The inmates who disobeyed or requested for judicial review was maltreated in the manner of imprisonment in a tiny prison, electric shock, having all limbs shackled, being put on a torture rick, etc.
The tiny prison is a small room for punishment with an area of 4 square meters. Gai Fengzhen said that she was imprisoned in such a room for more than 40 days with the window for ventilation tightly closed. She had to urinate and defecate on the floor of the room and was not released until she was in a coma after spitting out blood.
“Full shackles” meant that an inmate was fixed on the bed or wall by shackles on her limbs. At any time, the guards would pull one shackle at one side or corner fiercely or tear the four limbs with great strength. Sometimes they would even hang the victim on the shackles. That was a torture exceeding the limit that the victim’s body could bear.
For hunger strikers, the camp dealt with them with the “bed for the deceased”. It was a bed made of iron with seven devices like handcuff and binding tape to hold the victim tight on the bed. There was only a small hole under the victim’s buttocks for excretion.
Zhu Guiqin was held on the “bed for the deceased” for more than 10 days. She recalled that at that time, her clothes were cut open, her body was half naked, her hands and legs were bound tightly to the legs of the bed. Every 24 hours, she was fed by force with her mouth held open by a metranoikter for genaecological operation.
Source: Singtao Daily “Liaoning Women’s Labor Camp Similar to Purgatory on Earth” (Translated from Chinese by Chan Kai Yee), SCMP “Women ‘chained up and tortured’ in labour camp”
A Chinese court rules on Thursday whether to award damages to a man who spent a year in a labor camp for an online joke about now disgraced leader Bo Xilai, although experts say compensation, if given, is likely to be low to avoid a flood of new grievances.
Fang Hong, a blogger and former forestry official, said he is demanding 367,000 yuan ($59,000) for psychological suffering after being sentenced in 2011 to a year of re-education in a labor camp at the height of Bo’s campaign against organized crime in the city of Chongqing, where he was Communist Party boss.
“Although there is no precedent for this in China, if you want to rule the country according to the law … how else can you provide compensation aside from with money?” Fang said in a telephone interview this week.
His conviction was overturned last year, a few months after Bo was sacked under a cloud of lurid tales of corruption and his wife’s murder of a British businessman.
Bo’s time in office was marked by popular social projects but also a crackdown on crime overseen by his then police chief Wang Lijun, which won him many fans but also accusations of heavy-handedness and serious miscarriages of justice.
Fang was sentenced for posting a scatological poem mocking Bo and Wang for their abuse of the city’s justice system, an egregious example critics say of how Bo stifled dissent.
Fang said he was “not necessarily hopeful” that the court would offer him the full amount, but that he expected some money for damages, based on regulations that allow for meager daily compensation rates for loss of freedom in such cases.
Joshua Rosenzweig, a Hong-Kong-based independent human rights researcher, said the risk of emboldening victims of similar cases made the prospect of a large sum being awarded slim.
“I think it is reasonable to expect that the government might impose some limits on compensation claims to keep a control on the flood gates that might open,” Rosenzweig said.
There are no hard and fast figures on the number of cases of legal redress, but more are expected to emerge as Bo’s downfall is cemented by his own trial and likely conviction. He was last seen in public last March and is being held in custody.
One prominent lawyer, Chen Youxi, has said over 700 people were convicted as part of Bo’s anti-crime gang campaign, including over 70 who were executed.
Hu Cheng, a veteran petitioner who blames Wang Lijun for months of illegal detention after his home was seized by a politically connected developer in Chongqing’s Beibei district, said people implicated in Bo’s campaign are waiting for his conviction.
“Once they are convinced it is safe, they will come back and demand compensation. It will take years to sort out,” Hu told Reuters in Beijing.
Bo, 63, was widely seen as pursuing a powerful spot on the ruling Communist Party’s elite inner core before his career unraveled after Wang fled to a U.S. consulate for more than 24 hours last February and alleged that Bo’s wife, Gu Kailai, had murdered British businessman Neil Heywood.
Gu and Wang have both since been convicted and jailed.
Fang’s case, magnified by the high-profile Bo scandal, also has been used by lawyers and activists in a recent surge of calls for reform to China’s re-education through labor system.
The system, in place since 1957, empowers police to sentence petty criminals to up to four years’ confinement without going through the courts. China’s domestic security head Meng Jianzhu said earlier this month reforms were a priority.
As China’s new leaders prepare to take up the reins of state power at the annual meeting of parliament in March, they are likely to face an outcry if attempts to address the claims of wrongful convictions in Chongqing are not perceived as swift and just.
“Re-examining and correcting these cases of miscarriages of justice and informing the people in a timely manner is absolutely necessary for restoring judicial authority and public confidence,” said Tong Zhiwei, a law professor at the East China University of Political Science and Law in Shanghai.
“If these cases aren’t handled well, then the people won’t have any confidence in the system,” he said.
Source: Reuters “China court to rule on compensation for man jailed for Bo joke”
SCMP carries Agence France-Presse report from Beijing: “China’s hugely controversial ‘re-education’ labor camps are set to be abolished this year, state media quoted a senior legal official as saying on Monday.
“It is another signal that the widely criticized system – where people can be sentenced to up to four years’ re-education by a police panel, without an open trial – is coming to an end.
“The comments come after the Communist Party’s newly installed leader Xi Jinping said the organization recognized as a ‘pressing problem’ that it was ‘out of touch with the people’.”
“Earlier this month reports emerged briefly that the system – known as laojiao – would be abolished, but they were swiftly deleted and replaced with predictions of reforms, with few details and no timetable.
“Chen Jiping, deputy director of the China Law Society, was quoted by the China Daily as saying that a key meeting had agreed to limit use of the system tightly until it could be scrapped by China’s rubber-stamp parliament, the National People’s Congress (NPC).”
For details, please visit SCMP website at:
SCMP reports: “The Communist Party’s proposed reforms to the legal system, particularly one to ‘halt’ the controversial re-education through labour system, will prove a major litmus test of new leader Xi Jinping’s oft-repeated commitment to transparency and the rule of law, analysts say.
“And the latest development is just a first step, they added.
“Security tsar Meng Jianzhu told a national law-and-order work conference on Monday that the government would proceed with reforms in four areas this year: the re-education through labour (labour-camp) system; the petitions system; the use of judicial power; and the household registration system.
“The labour-camp system allows police to sentence people suspected of minor offences such as petty theft or prostitution, as well as petitioners and others who create a political nuisance for the authorities, to up to four years of forced labour without judicial review. There are 350 labour camps on the mainland, housing about 160,000 inmates.”
“The re-education through labour system came under fire last summer after it was revealed that a woman named Tang Hui had been sentenced to 11/2 years in a labour camp for ‘disturbing social order’ by demanding tougher punishment of seven men who raped her daughter and forced her into prostitution.
“However, the state media’s coverage of the proposed reform leaves room for scepticism. Some reports saying the system would end within the year were taken down shortly after they appeared online. Not all reappeared.”
For details, please visit SCMP website at:
Last September, Ren Jianyu, 25, a college graduate appointed by the party to be a village official at Pengshui County, Chongqing, was given a verdict of two-year imprisonment in a reeducation labor camp for denouncing Bo Xilai’s sing-red campaign in his microblog.
He was released on November 19 as Chongqing Labor Reeducation Committee crashed the verdict claiming that “the verdict was inappropriately given”.
In October, Ren sued the Committee for violation of the law in imprisoning him in the labor camp but Chongqing No. 3 Intermediate People’s Court dismissed Ren’s claim on the ground that the legal period of time allowed for the litigation had expired.
Ren plans to appeal to Chongqing Higher People’s Court for a review of the verdict.
His lawyer Pu Zhiqiang said that as Ren was entirely unable to file his lawsuit when he was imprisoned in a labor camp, the Intermediate People’s Court had no justified ground to dismiss his case. If such dismissal is allowed, all those imprisoned in labor camps will be deprived of their right of litigation.
Officials Are Allowed to Be Despots in China dated May 26
Lots of Chinese Officials Are Despots dated June 22
Officials Are Always Correct, Two True Stories of Despotism dated September 22
Ren Jianyu, 25, a college graduate appointed by the party to be a village official at Pengshui County, Chongqing, denounced Bo Xilai’s sing-red campaign in his microblog. Last September, Chongqing police accused him of the crime of instigating to overthrow the state power and gave him a verdict of two-year imprisonment in a reeducation labor camp.
The verdict has roused widespread concern among Chongqing people.
On the afternoon of November 19, Chongqing Labor Reeducation Committee crashed the verdict claiming that “the verdict was inappropriately given” and released Ren from Jiangjin District labor camp.
Earlier in October this year, Ren sued the Committee for violation of the law in imprisoning him in the labor camp. A verdict on his case was given yesterday by Chongqing No. 3 Intermediate People’s Court to dismiss Ren’s claim on the ground that the legal period of time allowed for the litigation had expired.
Ren said, “I have tremendously lost self-confidence and been filled with fear. I don’t know what I shall do in the future.”
We all know that Chinese police is notorious for its cruel persecution of dissidents. They have lots of ways to deprive victims of self-confidence and fill them with fear.
Ren must regard himself as lucky. He was right in opposing Bo’s campaign, but at that time the campaign was advocated by local authority and even now the central authority has not denounced the campaign
For quite a few powerful people in the Party, especially the “great” leader Mao and his followers, including Bo Xilai, a dissident is a dissident no mater what he has dissented is right or wrong. As along as he opposes what the party advocates, he shall be punished. Otherwise, people will be free to oppose the party and how can the party maintain the stability it needs to maintain its monopoly of politics?
A teacher I know was labeled Rightist in 1957 for the only reason that he said that according to the published contract, Soviet assistance in helping China to extract oil in Xinjiang was mutually beneficial instead of selfless as according to the contract, the Soviets were to take half of the oil extracted.
When the Soviet Union had become China’s enemy and the contract had been denounced, the teacher asked the authority to rehabilitate him and remove the Rightist label. He was struggled against again for challenging the authority. The authority said that what he said about the contract was correct, but it reflected his attitude in opposing and distrusting the party.
Blind obedience to the party is the safest way. Normally, you will never be in trouble. The Cultural Revolution is an exception.
People outside China are now hoping for about a political reform for democracy in China. Democracy is too precious a luxury for China now. We shall first have the freedom of speech and freedom of media. We shall first have the rule of law and be able to punish the large number of despots among Chinese police and officials who treat not only criminals but also innocent people cruelly.
Democracy is utterly impossible if the police is able to send people to labor camp “inappropriately” (which in fact means at will) for competing with the party in a “democratic” election.
The party is not even willing to abolish the system of reeducation through labor that empowers the police to imprison people at will and persecute people cruelly.
Democracy? Impossible now!
Sources: Singtao Daily, South China Morning Post and Reuters.
- Officials Are Allowed to Be Despots in China dated May 26
- Lots of Chinese Officials Are Despots dated June 22
- Officials Are Always Correct, Two True Stories of Despotism dated September 22
Radio Television Hong Kong reports: “China’s @weiquanwang website says that Hunan rights activist Zhu Chengzhi was arrested by Shaoyang police for the crime of ‘inciting subversion of state power’ on July 25 and is now detained at Shaoyang Detention Center.”
“The website says that Zhu is Li Wangyang’s close friend and had always been concerned with the cause of Li Wangyang’s death and consoled Li’s relatives. He was threatened by the police for that and had been administratively detained for 10 days for ‘disturbance of the peace’ as he refused to sign a written pledge required by the authority.
“Another Hunan rights activist Xiao Yong was sent by Shaoyang police on July 20 to labor camp for one and a half year for being concerned with Li Wangyang incident.”
Bizarre “Suicide” in Hunan of June 4 Leader Is Suspected Murder dated June 7
SCMP: Clampdown on Li Wangyang’s Friends Goes On dated June 20
SCMP: Civil Rights Activist Gets Two Tears in Labour Camp dated July 20
I find from my readers’ comments that they lack access to information from Chinese media and thus are ignorant of some basics about China. I will now focus on providing information indispensable for people who want to know the true China and no longer provide information already available in Western media.
SCMP says, “Civil rights activist Xiao Yong has been sentenced to two years in a labour camp for buying stolen motorcycles.
“However, his friends say authorities are using it as an excuse to silence him ahead of the 18th Communist Party congress.”
“‘Even though he had already returned the stolen bikes and was not prosecuted at the time, Xiao was informed by the police he would be sentenced to two years at a labour camp for owning illegal bikes,’ an online posting said.”
Xiao had publicly criticised the government over June 4 activist Li Wangyang’s death and made calls on his microblog account for a fair investigation into Li’s death.