A former Chinese official jailed for publicly criticizing the Chinese regime and disgraced Politburo member Bo Xilai was released from a labor camp, and is now insisting on suing a local committee that was in charge of his “re-education.”
Ren Jianyu, a former official in a village within the Chongqing megacity, was released earlier this week after he was sentenced to forced labor in a work camp for more than a year without ever going to trial, according to the state-run China Daily. He was accused of “inciting subversion of state power” and “attacking” the government by writing and reposting more than 100 comments on the Sina Weibo microblogging site, according to the Southern Metropolis Weekly.
Specifically, Ren attacked former Chongqing head Bo Xilai’s neo-Maoist Red Song Campaign and cult of personality while he was still in power. Bo was sacked earlier this year over nepotism, corruption, and misusing his power.
Ren also described the ruling Chinese Communist Party as a “dictatorship” and posted comments saying “down with the Chinese Communist Party,” according to Reuters.
During a hearing in October, Ren wore a shirt that said, “Give me Liberty or Give me Death.” The prosecutor said the shirt was evidence against Ren in his case. His girlfriend purchased the shirt on the Internet for him to wear at the trial.
Ren’s appeal against the Chongqing’s re-education through labor committee insisting he broke no laws was rejected by a court in Chongqing, according to his lawyer.
Yang Junxiang, a spokesman with the Chonqing court, told the Daily that Ren’s lawsuit was rejected because it exceeded the time frame for filing suit against an administration decision.
Speaking with reporters, Ren said, “It’s hard for me to calm down and I’m pretty disappointed” with the outcome of the litigation proceedings, according to the Southern Metropolis Weekly. “The result of the judgment is almost the same as what the [Chongqing’s re-education through labor committee] told me earlier.”
Ren said that while in the work camp he lost more than 65 pounds; his girlfriend no longer jokes about his weight, he told Chinese media.
He was told by officials in the camp that if he sang the same so-called “red songs” that Bo Xilai promoted, then his sentence would have been commuted. But he refused, according to the Beijing News.
“Now, I truly realize the inner meaning of the ‘no freedom and would rather die’ aspect of the Chinese labor camp system,” he said, adding that it is “too arbitrary and anyone could be placed in harm’s way while in such a system, based on my experience,” according to the Sina news portal.
But in a discussion with Chinese social media users on Sina Weibo, Ren said he hopes his “persistence and efforts will change the labor camp system, even a little bit.”
Ren’s case ignited a debate about the legitimacy of the re-education through labor system that the Chinese Communist Party oversees. The system allows labor terms to be given without a trial and with minimal oversight. Some people have been sentenced to a year of forced labor for posting one-sentence remarks online. In 2008 two grandmothers in Beijing, both in their late 70s, almost spent a year in a work camp after simply lodging an application to protest.
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