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Outspoken Chinese Singer Detained Over Online Bomb Threat

Chinese police have detained an activist singer after she wrote online that she wanted to blow up government buildings.

Shortly after a man set off a bomb at Beijing's airport on July 20, 2013, Wu Hongfei, a former journalist and now a singer based in Beijing, posted on China’s most popular microblogging site Sina Weibo that she wanted to blow up two local government departments. She was detained two days later by Beijing police on the charge of “causing trouble”.

Beijing police confirmed on July 26 that Wu is detained for falsifying a terrorist threat, a crime that may result in five years in prison.

Many thought the threat was not serious, but they suspected that Wu's detention was political retribution for her past criticisms of the government and that the police will want to make an example of her to deter others.

The detention of Wu has triggered discussions on Sina Weibo over whether Wu's post should be considered as a terrorist threat.

Singer Wuzhongfei(pic from Sina Weibo)

Singer Wuzhongfei(pic from Sina Weibo)

Global Times reported that a Sina Weibo vote with more than 27,000 participants showed that nearly 82 percent of those polled said Wu should not receive a criminal sentence, even though her words were inappropriate.

Many lawyers and intellectuals argue that Wu committed a crime that does not exist, and others call for freedom of speech to ensure a healthy society.

A Shanghai-based Lawyer wrote [zh]:

不是是否同意的问题,根本不成立犯罪。

It’s not a question of whether or not Wu should be sent to prison, the fact is that the crime doesn’t exist.

Professor Wang Quanjie uploaded [zh] evidence of similar violent speeches in the past by other bloggers:

吴虹飞如果要被判刑,那么下图这些公开威胁杀人的微博主该怎么处理呢?

If Wu Hongfei is to be sentenced, how about those bloggers who threatened in public to kill people?

Writer Tianyou wrote [zh]:

女歌手吴虹飞被刑拘,给人的感觉就是他们现在特别恐惧,有种草木皆兵的感觉。联想起在一系列刑事案件和群体事件中他们的处理方法,给人的感觉他们是完全没有智慧,进退失据,手段简单粗暴。这种情况不改变,恐怕会使得官民对立更加严重。

Singer Wu Hongfei’s detention makes people feel [the government] is so scared that they see everyone as their enemy. It also reminds me of how they deal with other criminal cases. They have no wisdom, and are totally clueless and brutal. If the situations don’t change, the tension between the government and the ordinary citizens will be more intensified.

Professor Kan Hongguo from Northwest University of Politics maintained [zh] that freedom of speech is key to a healthy society:

没有言论自由,就不足以形成健康的公民社会土壤,就会导致病态的政府。事实上,政府并不能从滥用的严刑峻法中得到任何实际的好处。言论的自由开放与权力的节制审慎之间所形成的良性互动,才是政府和公民的最大福音。

Freedom of speech is essential to a healthy civil society. Lacking in freedom of speech will lead to morbid government. In fact, the government does not benefit from the abuse of law. The positive interaction between freedom of speech and restraint power is the greatest gospel for the government and citizens.

Law Professor of Beijing University Zhang Qianfan quoted [zh] famous Chinese politician and intellectual Luo Longji:

“压迫言论自由的危险,比言论自由的危险更危险。”公民言论可能是理性平和的,也可能是激进极端的,甚至带有暴力恐吓的迹象,但是只要还有讨论和说服的空间,就不能动用国家机器压制言论,即便是以法律的名义。

“The oppression of freedom of speech is more dangerous than freedom of expression.” Citizens’ comments can be calm and rational, or extreme and radical, even with signs of violent threat, but as long as there is room for discussion and persuasion, you can not use the state apparatus to suppress freedom of speech, even if it is in the name of law.

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