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China: School Teacher Sent to Labor Camp For Posting Earthquake Photos On Internet

Posted by Author on August 5, 2008

Human Rights in China, July 29, 2008-

Human Rights in China has learned that Liu Shaokun (刘绍坤), a Sichuan school teacher who photographed collapsed school buildings in quake-affected areas and posted his pictures online, has been ordered to serve one year of Reeducation-Through-Labor (劳动教养) (RTL). Despite making several attempts, Liu’s family has not been allowed to see him since he was detained on June 25 this year. Though authorities told the family they could see him on July 29, they were again denied a visit.

“Instead of investigating and pursuing accountability for shoddy and dangerous school buildings, the authorities are resorting to RTL to silence and lock up concerned citizens like teacher Liu Shaokun and others,” said Human Rights in China Executive Director Sharon Hom. “These actions further undermine human rights and the ‘peaceful Olympics’ called for by the authorities, and reflect an irresponsible callousness towards the Sichuan earthquake victims and parents of the thousands of children killed by collapsed school buildings.”

Liu, a teacher at Guanghan Middle School, Deyang City, Sichuan Province (四川省德阳市广汉中学), traveled to heavily hit areas after the May 12 Sichuan earthquake, took photos of collapsed school buildings, and put them online. In a media interview, he expressed his anger at “the shoddy ‘tofu’ buildings.” Liu was detained on June 25 at his school. At the time, authorities informed his school’s principal that Liu was being held for “disseminating rumors and destroying social order.” Authorities later told Liu’s family that he was being investigated on “suspicion of the crime of inciting subversion.” (煽动颠覆国家政权) However, the family did not receive formal notification for his detention as required under Chinese law.

On July 23, 28 days after his detention, Liu’s wife was informed that there was a letter from her husband to pick up at the Guanghan City Public Security Bureau. When she arrived, she was given a “Reeducation-Through-Labor Notice” (劳动教养通知书), which had Liu’s signature and fingerprints, but not the length of time he would serve. After Liu’s wife demanded to know how and why he was placed in RTL, she was told that Liu would serve one year for “inciting a disturbance.” (煽动闹事)

Under RTL regulations, public security authorities may issue an order to anyone to serve up to four years of RTL without trial or formal charge.

– Original: Press Release: Family Visits Still Denied to Sichuan School Teacher Punished after Quake-Zone Visit, Human Rights in China, July 29, 2008

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