Rights activist Wang Yi (王译), also known as Chen Jianping (程建萍), was released today from a Henan Reeducation-Through-Labor (RTL) facility where she served one year of RTL as punishment for re-tweeting a sarcastic message in October 2010. Wang said that she is staying at a guesthouse in Henan, and is under surveillance by Domestic Security officers. It is unclear on what basis the surveillance is being imposed or how long it will last.
Wang described her departure from the RTL facility and how she had rejected the punishment:
I left the Fourth Brigade of the Henan Women's Reeducation-Through-Labor Center in Shibalihe Town, Zhengzhou, Henan this morning around 9 a.m. In the RTL Center, I accepted neither reform nor reeducation-through-labor. When I was leaving, ten or so female guards from the Fourth Brigade took away by force all the articles I wrote over the past year and the personal letters from [my fiancée] Hua Chunhui (华春辉). They injured my left arm and my little finger.
When I first arrived at the RTL Center, I made it clear that: 1) I am not a criminal and I refuse to be reformed through labor; 2) I refuse to have my hair cut; 3) I refuse to write a statement of repentance. The confrontation over the haircut issue lasted for three days, as I firmly refused to accept the insult of a haircut.
In the past, I appeal on behalf of others and fight for their rights. From today forward, I will continue to do rights defense work and I will demand justice for myself. I do not fear jail. What I fear is remaining silent when others encounter unfairness and injustice.
Wang Yi has long been involved in rights defense work. She was active in campaigning for justice for the victims in cases including the mysterious “suicide” of Gao Yingying in Hubei in 2006; the “nail house” family in Yangjiaping, Chongqing, which refused eviction in 2007; slave labor in illegal brick kilns in Shanxi in 2007; the brutal enforcement of family planning policies in Guangxi in 2007; and tainted milk powder scandal in 2008. Wang was also among the initiators of support campaigns for activist and writer Liu Xianbin (刘贤斌) and the Three Netizens of Fujian, Fan Yanqiong (范燕琼), You Jingyou (游精佑), and Wu Huaying (吴华英), who were imprisoned after posting videos and messages online regarding the death of a woman believed to have been raped.
On October 17, 2010, Wang Yi reposted a sarcastic message on Twitter calling for anti-Japanese demonstration, and added a facetious comment. On October 28, the day that Wang Yi and her fiancé Hua Chunhui had planned to register their marriage, the Wuxi Municipal Public Security Bureau took Wang Yi into custody and later returned her to her hometown in Changyuan County, Henan, where she was detained in a hostel. Wang said that during her detention, four Wuxi police officers abused her in various indecent ways, pulled her hair, and struck her. Wang said that when she could no longer stand the humiliation, she tried to smash her head against the wall. The police said to her, “You want to die? It’s not that easy.”
On November 12, 2010, the Xinxiang Municipal Committee for the Administration of Reeducation-Through-Labor in Henan ordered Wang Yi to serve one year of RTL for “disturbing social order” (扰乱社会治安). Her case made international news in 2010 as the first case of a person being put away for using Twitter.
For more information on Wang Yi, see:
- @wxhch64, Hua Chunhui’s Twitter account
- @wangyi09, Wang Yi’s twitter account (last updated on October 27, 2010, before she was detained)
- Lawyers Appeal to Twitter CEO for Help, January 9, 2011
- A Record of Wang Yi’s Punishment for Speech Crimes (Chinese only), November 21, 2010
- Wang Yi’s Case Documents: Administrative Penalty Decision, Detention Cancellation Notice, and Reeducation-Through-Labor Decision (Chinese only), November 2010