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Six bloggers arrested in Chinese province for reporting gangrape death

Six bloggers based in the southeastern Chinese province of Fujian were arrested at the end of last month on charges of defamation and high treason, according to delayed reports received by Reporters sans Frontières (RSF). Lawyers have told the Paris-based press freedom organisation they are being held for reporting that a young woman died after being gangraped in February 2008.

“Reporting a woman’s rape and death is not grounds for arrest,” RSF said. “The police accuse these bloggers of defamation without saying who was defamed, and accuse them of high treason without offering any credible evidence of this. This is clearly an attempt by the Fujian authorities to cover up a tragic case in order to protect influential people.” It added, “The fact that the detained bloggers are unable to see the lawyers of their choice reinforces the impression that they are the victims of a politically-motivated punishment.”

The bloggers were arrested for reporting that, according to the initial statements of the nurses who treated her, Yan Xiaoling died on February 11, 2008 from a haemorrhage of the uterus after being raped “by at least five or six persons.” This is disputed by the local authorities, who insist that “no violence was inflicted on Yan Xiaoling.”

Liu Xiaoyuan, a well-known Beijing-based lawyer who is representing one of the bloggers, You Jingyou, has reported on his own blog (http://blog.sina.com.cn/s/blog_49da...) that nurses at the Minqing district hospital in Fujian province explained the causes of Yan Xiaoling’s death to her father, Lin Xiuying.

Despite the gravity of the case, the local authorities showed little interest in carrying out an investigation. The victim’s mother had to pay 5,000 RMB (500 euros) for an autopsy. According to the local authorities, the final report did not incriminate anyone because it concluded that she died as a result of an “extra-uterine pregnancy.”

After the announcement of the autopsy results, the dead woman’s father turned to various courts without success and the case was finally reported by the bloggers. No one has been arrested for Yan Xiaoling’s rape and ensuing death but the bloggers said the leading suspect was a karaoke bar manager who is also an alleged pimp and drug dealer.

The exact number of citizen journalists arrested in this case is not clear. Liu Xiaoyuan’s blog names six: his own client, You Jingyou, aged in his 40s; Fan Yanqiong, a young woman who being represented by Fujian-based lawyer Lin Zhong; Wu Huaying, represented by Lin Hongnan, another Fujian-based lawyer; Guo Baofeng, the young writer of the Amoiist.com blog; Chen Huanhui and Chen’s wife.

Liu Xiaoyuan’s blog criticised the Ma Wei district police’s refusal on July 15 to allow the lawyers to see their clients. The police cited article 96 of criminal code section 2, which allows the police to forbid a lawyer to see a client in cases involving state secrecy.

Date posted: July 22, 2009 Last modified: May 23, 2018 Total views: 269