In a statement of protest (see below), Shi Tao, a journalist who served eight years of a ten-year prison term, says that contents in his social networking WeChat account were deleted in recent days, in the lead up to the 26th anniversary of the June Fourth crackdown on the 1989 Democracy Movement. He adds that he is aware of targeted deletion of the contents of an increasing number of WeChat accounts.
Shi urges resistance of censorship and documentation of official corruption: “Freedom of speech is the foundation of our equal coexistence, and enables us to maintain our dignity when we are arrogantly and harshly suppressed by the high and mighty. I would rather die speaking out than live in silence. Let every one of us cry out courageously for freedom!”
In April 2004, in advance of the 15th anniversary of the June Fourth crackdown, Shi sent via email to an overseas Chinese-language website an official directive restricting media coverage of the anniversary. The email account information Yahoo provided to Chinese authorities was used as evidence to convict Shi of leaking “state secrets.” He was released on August 23, 2013.
Below is the statement in English translation.
Statement by Shi Tao
June 5, 2015
[English translation by Human Rights in China]
To my relatives and close friends:
On June 5, 2015, my WeChat “Moments” [similar to a Facebook timeline, where photos, video, and text can be posted and shared] were blocked, and no individual or group has claimed responsibility for this action. Even some terrorist groups, which operate openly, would not stoop to this sort of shadiness. I have since learned that more and more people’s Moments have been blocked in a targeted manner. Yet, when I went online specifically to activate my WeChat functionality, I discovered that the system was working just fine, which only goes to prove that this social networking system, WeChat, has despicably sunk to being an accomplice to the officials. On this, I state the following:
Freedom of speech is the foundation of our equal coexistence, and enables us to maintain our dignity when we are arrogantly and harshly suppressed by the high and mighty. I would rather die speaking out than live in silence. Let every one of us cry out courageously for freedom!