Red song campaign critic freed

By Bai Tiantian Source:Global Times Published: 2012-11-19 23:30:05

A 25-year-old former village official was released from re-education through labor on Monday after serving 15 months in detention for "attacking" the Chongqing municipal government's red song campaign.

A local court is set to rule Tuesday on a case brought by Ren Jianyu against the re-education committee that sentenced him.

Pu Zhiqiang, the young official's attorney, told the Global Times that Ren was released around 3:40 pm Monday afternoon after the re-education through labor committee in Chongqing officially revoked his detention order.

"He did not withdraw his lawsuits against the re-education through labor committee," said Pu, adding that the committee previously tried to cut a deal with Ren, urging him to drop the case in exchange for his freedom.

"Ren turned them down and insisted on suing the committee to clear his name," Pu said.

The Chongqing No.3 Intermediate People's Court will pronounce its verdict on Ren's case at 3 pm on Tuesday. Ren Jianyu's father, Ren Shiliu, and other family members and friends will be gathered at the court to support Ren on his case.

"I want them to give my son his job back and to restore his reputation. I want the re-education committee to make a public apology in the newspaper for what they have done to him," Ren Shiliu told the Global Times earlier.

A migrant worker, Ren Shiliu put his son through university by working on construction sites.

Ren Jianyu was placed in detention without a court hearing in August 2011 for writing and reposting some 100 comments criticizing the Chongqing government's controversial crackdown on crime while celebrating songs of the revolution.

A number of legal experts in China have recently called for a rethink of the re-education through labor system, after a woman, Tang Hui, was sent to a re-education center in August for disturbing social order. Tang had protested the treatment of her daughter, who she alleged had been forced into prostitution. She was later released.

The case brought to light "re-education through labor" sentences, a system of administrative detention handed down by the public security bureau rather than through the courts, a common practice that lawyers claim to be unconstitutional.

"The release of Ren is a symbol of success but that success is Ren's alone," said Pu, an advocator for abolishing re-education through labor.

"Unfortunately it doesn't mean we have made substantial progress. There are other people out there, looking for help. I still have a lot of work to do," Pu said.

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