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China: When a gang rape scandal turns into state secrets…

Yesterday (July 16) in early morning, twitterer amoiist sent out a mobile message to twitter saying: “I have been arrested by Mawei police, SOS.” And the second message is: “Pls help me, I grasp the phone during police sleep”. Since then, there isn't any update in his twitter.

Netizens arrested

His arrest was believed to be related to a gang rape scandal which the Fujian authorities have been trying to cover up. The sex scandal, titled as “Yan Xiaoling (嚴曉玲)much more miserable than Deng Yujiao(鄧玉嬌)”, was first posted in Kaidi forum in late June in re-posted in many major online forums. It tells the story of 25-year-old Yan Xiaoling who had been gang raped and killed by local triad, owner of a KTV, in Feb this year. The post also said that the KTV owner was connected with local authorities in Minxin province.

The death of Yan Xiaoling

As the post caught the attention of millions of netizens, local authorities made a public statement explaining that Yan was died from hemorrhagic shock caused by pregnancy bleeding. However, her mother said that hospital staff told her that her daughter was probably gang-raped by at least five people. When her body was delivered to the hospital, her underwear was nowhere to be seen and her uterus was torn and mutilated.

On 24th of June, Fuzhou police called a press conference and claimed that all the news concerning Yan were rumors. Apart from Amoiist, 6 other netizens have been arrested for posting the news. Fuzhou city police claimed that they were under the suspicion of “defamation” but yet to identify who exactly they are defaming.

From defamation into state secrets

On 15th of July, three human right lawyers, Lin Zhong (林忠), Lin Hungnan(林洪楠), Liu Xiaoyuan(劉曉原) tried to visit three of the arrested netizen Fan Yinqiong, You Jingyou in Mawei district police station but rejected. The accusation of “suspected defamation” has bee alleviated to involving “state secrecy issue” (cn).

amoiist

Amoiist's real name is Guo Bofeng or Peter Guo (郭寶峰), a professional translator lives in Xiamen city, Fujian Province. His regular blog is amoiist.com. Recently he has uploaded the interview of Yan Xiaoling's mother who explained that her daughter was under threat by local triad and local authorities’ attempt in covering up the issue:

Last night, Mawei police contact Guo's supervisor and told he that Guo was under criminal detention. Many reporters had called up the police station to have fact check on the 6 arrest cases but the police replied: reporters don't have the rights to fact check this case! Guo twitter friends continue to update the news via twitter search: @amoiist and #amoiist.

Blogger's suggestion to the authorities

Lianyue gives a number of suggestions to local authorities:

1、给马尾警方的建议:1、案件进入公众视野,被带走调查者虽然不开心,警方也会受到更严厉的监督,双刃剑;2、如果过度或不当使用警力将会使警方骑虎难下;3、不要与舆论为敌,否则事态将滚雪球一样变大。

1. suggestion to Mawei police: 1. the case has enter the public sphere, and now turned into a double blade sword. For those who are under arrested, they would suffer, but the police would be under close monitor as well; 2. If the police adopt inappropriate action, it blocks its own exit; 3. don't be the enemy of public opinion or the case will turn into a snowball and become bigger and bigger.

2、给马尾警方的上级机关的建议:1、赶快介入控制事态,以防被下属拖进不必要的困局;2、对网络传播的责任认定,与时俱进,从宽不从严,否则网络舆论同仇敌忾,权力此时反将被动;3、别激网民就此事开始发声,那舆论将会如台风一样生成。

2. suggestion to the higher rank authorities above Mawei police: 1. intervene into the case asap or the government would be trapped; 2. should recognize netizens’ rights in information distribution or it would become enemy of public opinion and become reactive in the use of power; 3. don't make any statement that agitate netizens or the public opinion typhoon will be formed.

3、监督一件具体的事,我喜欢这些原则:1、盯事实,千万别辱及不相干公务员,更别扯所谓的体制问题。2、给对方退路。3、做自己认为该做的事,不鼓动他人,不指望他人。4、当事人权利第一位,别牺牲他们以成就悲情及批判。

3. I adopt the following principle in monitoring an incident: 1. focus on the fact and don't insult government official who are not involved in the case. Moreover, don't pull in discussion on polity issue. 2. leave a way for the opponent to step back; 3. do want you think you should do, don't mobilize and expect others to do your part. 4. we should place the safety and rights of the people involved, don't sacrifice them for the sake of being critical.

Cancer growing

Some people believe that the case reflects the corruption of local government and expects higher ranking government officials or central government to step in and intervene. However, blogger Ren Yunfei disagrees:

由于极权的实质,中央政府与地方政府始终是利益同构的,中央政府再强大也不可能在越来越多的群体事件中,对地方政府整肃得“干干净净”,那样反而会使中央政府陷入困境,因为你不能事必躬亲。就算你有能力有公正之心事必躬亲,也会因为时间、精力、财力、物力诸方面而有所不逮。何况官场的官官相护是因为强大的利益链所致,县一级官员可能没有能力直接上通中央,但他们有省、市级政府官员的桥梁在其中暗通款曲,人人都有自身的保护伞。中央政府了为了地方的安靖且怕涉及更多的高层官员,也会睁只眼闭只眼,除非民愤大到危及一地的安宁

Due to the nature of authoritarian state, the interest between the central government and the local government is essentially the same. No matter how strong the central government is, it cannot be involved in all the mass incidents and clean up the corruption in the local level. Such involvement would cripple the central government in terms of time, energy, material supports, etc. Moreover the colluded relation among government officials has an interest chain, even though the county level government officials cannot reach the central government, they can always have the protection from city and province level government. Central government taking into the account of political stability would not intervene into local affair unless such cases have affected the social stability of a region.

福建马尾警方在威胁民众而干坏事的效率上是非常高的,也是非常有作战能力的。他们持续不断地抓捕六名曝严晓玲被害案真相的发帖者,大有一种有多少抓多少的气概,完全不理会民意里面的正义吁请。他们为何如此蛮横呢?那就是当地警方视当地政府、当地官员、直接领导为国家,调查他们所犯过错,便是侵害国家,便是事涉国家机密。这种可怕的逻辑,在如今的中国各级政府那里蔓延,和维稳时滥用警力一样,已成为基层政治的毒瘤。

The Fujian Mawei police is very effective in threatening its citizens. They arrested 6 people who had posted information on the truth of Yan Xiaolin's case and gave people an impression that they would arrest who so ever stand in their way without considering public opinion. How can they be so brutal? It is because local police consider any investigation on the police authorities as infringing the State and therefore related with state secrets. Such kind of logic has extended to all levels of government. It has become a cancer in local politics.

A shorter version of this post is published at globalvoice advocacy .

  • http://globalvoicesonline.org Xiao Deng

    Oiwan Lam, thank you. This comment is just to clear up a little confusion in your opening paragraphs, and to orientate any readers unfamiliar with Chinese territorial administration: the province at hand is Fujian, on the southeast coast; there is no “Minxin province”. Fuzhou is the capital of Fujian (seat of its provincial executive, legislature, judiciary, party and public security). Mawei is a district (urban county) of the Fuzhou municipal region, somewhat nearer the Pacific than the municipality’s other districts. Mawei’s sheriff (“GongAn Fenju”) therefore acts under two levels of public security bureaucracy, each headquartered not an hour upriver. We may see this same district referred to as Fujian Mawei or as Fuzhou Mawei, depending on the height (provincial or municipal) of the official in question.

  • Charles Liu

    Oh Lam please stop your rumor mongering. The autopsy showed Yan died of ectopic pregnancy.

    Yes, according to this article the case is consistent with ectopic pregnancy, a leading cause of pregnancy related death:

    http://www.plannedparenthood.org/health-topics/pregnancy/ectopic-pregnancy-4259.htm

    Here’s the report on what the police investigation found:

    http://news.qq.com/a/20090624/001399.htm

    And many people don’t realize removal of organ is standard autopsy procedure. Please Google “Rokitansky method” for details.

    So what is the case for accusing police of covering up gang rape [committed by by elephants appearantly]? The victim’s folopian tube is torn from rape not from ectopic pregnancy? Who is the unnamed hospital personnel?

    There’s absolutely no credible evidence to the allegation.

  • Charles Liu

    And you “no right to fact check” is completely out of context. the police told the reporter they can’t divulge details (due to privacy reason), and they should ask the family:

    “公安局也可以不告诉记者,因为记者无权知道,让记者去找家属”

    “Gongan can’t tell the reporter, because reporters have no right to know, told the reporter to ask the family”

    The police never said reporters can’t fact check. Looks like you’re the one that needs to do some fact checking.

  • Charles Liu

    Lam, if you have a shred of honesty, you wouldn’t have ommitted the fact the bloogers accused the police of commiting the gang rape then covering it up.

    The police detained these bloggers on charge of defamation. All this because the family of the dead wanted compensation for death from ectopic pregnancy?

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