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Chinese Teenager Accused of Spreading Rumors Online Arrested

A 16-year-old boy was taken away by Gansu police in China over comments the student made online questioning the official explanation of the recent death of a local worker.

Yang Hui, pseudonym used in major social media platforms, was detained on September 17, 2013, taken into custody while he was studying in a classroom at his junior high school. Police accused the boy of spreading rumors and thus provoking public disorder on several Chinese social media platforms, including Sina Weibo and QQ Space, with his comments. Under new rules in China, Internet users who share false information that is defamatory or harms the national interest face up to three years in prison if their posts are viewed 5,000 times or forwarded 500 times.

The Gansu police claimed that Yang's tweets which have been retweeted 500 times have incited people to demonstration. Image from Sina Weibo.

The Gansu police claimed that Yang's comments, which were shared more than 500 times, have incited people to demonstration. Image from Sina Weibo.

The posts that caused Yang trouble were comments about the unnatural death of a worker in Jewel Time International Karaoke TV (KTV) in Zhang Jiachuan. The man, whose surname was Gao, was found dead in the KTV on September 12. The police claimed that Gao committed suicide, but his family and friends questioned the police's investigation.

Below are the back up [jpg, zh] of Yang's posts on Sina Weibo. On September 14 at 19:19, after he witnessed a confrontation between police and Gao's family outside the KTV:

看來必須得游行了!中國的警察怎麼成這樣了?社會怎麼了?警察一個個拿著盾,棍子,這是要幹什麼?死者家屬已經被警察強行拘留!幾個拍照的人也被強行拘留,草泥馬了,不想讓世界知道真相?你們在怕什麼?老子就不怕你們,老子就敢拍,你媽的你來抓我啊!逝者安息。

It seems it is necessary to protest. What happened to Chinese police? What happened to the society? The police were holding shields and rods. What were they doing? Family members of the victim were detained and those who took photos were also detained. WTF. You don't want the world to know what had happened? What are you afraid of? I am not afraid of you. I took pictures, arrest me, I dare you. May the dead rest in peace.

On September 15 at 21:40, Yang wrote:

鉆石國際KTV(案發地)的法定代表人是張家川縣人民法院的副院長蘇建,試問一個小縣城的法院副院長的工資如何代能投資起一個幾百萬的KTV?這裡面又有什麼不可告人的秘密?而且到現在為何鉆石國際的法代蘇建不肯出面?等著真相公之於世吧!縣委、市委不能相信,還有省委和中央呢。。。

The legal representative of Jewel Time International KTV (the crime scene) is Su Jian, the deputy head of Zhang Jiachuan people's court. With so little salary, how can the deputy head of a tiny county afford to invest in KTV, a company that is worth a few million yuan? Is there a secret? How come legal representative Su Jian has not come out to explain the incident? Let's wait for the truth to be revealed. We can't trust the county and city Party committee, but we still have the provincial and central Party committee…

On September 20, the public security bureau of Zhang Jiachuan published an official statement [zh] via Weibo saying that Yang's posts have led to speculation, protest and public disorder.

However, many netizens have questioned the police's action. Zhou Nan (@周难的微博) raised [zh] the question:

甘肃警方有什么证据证明数百人聚集与初中生的质疑帖子有关?

What evidence did the Gansu police use to prove that the mass incident [on September 14] was related to the junior high school student's posts?

Jiujiu Yide (@久久一得) was [zh] very angry:

一初中生能煽动大众?甘肃警方脑残了吧!赶紧放人,否则引众怒,就不是现在这回事了!补上道歉、补上精神损失费。

A junior high school kid can incite the public? The Gansu police are brain-damaged! Release the kid or the public will be outraged. The police should apologize and give compensation.

Lawyer Duo Muqing stressed [zh] that the boy had done nothing wrong:

发现有些法律人在甘肃初中生因发帖被刑拘的问题上表态很模糊。有人说什么孩子有错也不应当滥施刑罚、应当教育引导之类云云。这样的话完全混淆视听,不应从法律人口中说出。申明一下,这个孩子没任何过错,也无需教育引导,他应当得到褒奖,那些抓他的匪警应受教育并接受法律严惩!

Some legal experts are ambivalent about the arrest of a junior high school kid in Gansu. Some say even if the kid is wrong, the police should not exercise their power to criminalize him. Instead, this is the arena of education. Such comments have created a lot of confusion and should not come from people with legal background. I want to stress that the boy has done nothing wrong and should not be educated. He should be praised and the police should be educated and punished.

Many laughed at the over-reaction of the police. “Cicada sings all night” (@一夜蝉鸣V) quoted an online comment:

关于甘肃某县初中生杨某散布谣言被刑拘一事,网友评论: 一个孩子的一句话就能颠覆你们,你们的政权是纸糊的还是沙堆的? 你们捉的是谣还是妖? 也有网友认为这是个利好的消息:现在它们连初中生都怕了,证明日子快了

Concerning the arrest of the junior high school student by the Gansu police, netizen comment: Some words from a kid can subvert you? Is state power made of paper or sand? Are you catching rumors or ghosts? Another netizen comment: This is a good news: Now that they are afraid of junior high school kids, the day is near.

“Brother Star PK dogs” (@大话星哥pk一群狗) echoed:

坏消息:他们连初中生都抓; 好消息:他们连初中生都怕。

Bad news: They arrested a junior high school kid; Good news: They are afraid of junior high school kids.

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