The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is concerned that the Communist Party of China has over-reacted and punished a judicial officer after he posted a comment about an aged policeman. The CPC appears to have interpreted the comment as mockery of the party.
According to several Mainland media reports, whose content is almost identical, the Communist Party Disciplinary section of the Intermediate People’s Court in Lijiang City, Yunnan Province, suspended Li Bingxiang, Vice President of the Criminal Court, after he posted a message on social media expressing his feelings about a policeman working in snowy weather. The Party said Li’s message had “a serious influence” and this made it inappropriate for him to continue performing his duties.
At approximately 9am on February 26, Li posted an image of a 57-year-old policeman on duty in the snowy weather. Li said the fact that the policeman was still on duty in such weather could have had three possible causes. The first possible cause was that the policeman was being punished after he made a mistake. The second and the third were that “it’s a show”. The senior management of the People’s Court scolded Li after they became aware of his post. Li offered an apology and deleted the message. However the Communist Party Disciplinary section of the Court intervened in the case and suspended Li from duty, in accordance with Section 26 of Regulations of the Discipline Inspection of Examination Cases.
In the reports, there was no mention of whether Li accepted the punishment. Several media workers told the IFJ: “It’s very risky to criticize the police.”
The IFJ said: “We respect that each organization has its own ethics and disciplinary mechanisms. However, accused people are entitled to due process and punishment should not be out of proportion. In addition, we do not believe a post expressing an opinion could cause ‘a serious influence’. Such personal comments have become a very powerful excuse for the authorities to punish any opinion they do not like.”
We urge Xi Jinping, the Honourable Secretary of the Communist Party, and Wang Qishan, member of Politburo Standing Committee of China and the Secretary of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection of the Communist Party, to review the whole set of regulations and the disciplinary mechanism. In addition, Xi and Wang should instruct Zhou Qiang, Chief Justice and the President of Supreme People’s Court, to investigate the case and report to the public.
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