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Chinese woman sent to labor camp after retweeting a message

November 18, 2010 |  1:14 pm

A Chinese Twitter user has been sentenced to a year in labor camp after retweeting a sarcastic message, according to human rights group Amnesty International.

Cheng Jianping, 46, may be the first Chinese citizen to become a prisoner of conscience based on a single post on Twitter, according to the group. She was accused of “disturbing social order” and sentenced to “reeducation through labor.”

On Oct. 17, tweeting as wangyi09, Cheng reposted a micro-blog post from her fiance, Hua Chunhui, tweeting as wxhch. The original message mockingly urged young Chinese nationalists, who have recently organized several anti-Japanese rallies, to attack the Japanese pavilion at the Shanghai World Expo.

“Anti-Japanese demonstrations, smashing Japanese products, that was all done years ago by Guo Quan [an activist and expert on the Nanjing Massacre],” the tweet read. “It’s no new trick.  If you really wanted to kick it up a notch, you’d immediately fly to Shanghai to smash the Japanese expo pavilion.”

Cheng reposted the message, adding “Charge, angry youth.”

She and Hua were both arrested last month on what was to be their wedding day, according to Amnesty International. Hua was released less than a week later.

“Sentencing someone to a year in a labour camp, Chinawithout trial, for simply repeating another person’s clearly satirical observation on Twitter demonstrates the level of China’s repression of online expression,” Sam Zarifi, Amnesty International’s Asia-Pacific director, said in a statement.

Twitter is officially blocked in China but can often be accessed anyway. Cheng had posted other tweets supporting jailed activist Liu Xiaobo and his recent Nobel Peace Prize win and backing democracy advocate Liu Xianbin, who is also in Chinese custody. 

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-- Tiffany Hsu

Photo: An Internet cafe in China. Credit: Wu Hong / European Pressphoto Agency

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