Minitrue: Downplay “Dispute” Between Lawyer and Police

The following censorship instructions, issued to the media by government authorities, have been leaked and distributed online. The name of the issuing body has been omitted to protect the source.

Regarding the dispute that occurred between lawyer Sun Shihua and local police, the public security bureau and the Lawyers Association recently published authoritative information on the investigation. Following up on this, no websites shall independently gather or report news or commentary. If authorized to report, use only official information from municipal and related departments, play down this topic. (October 16, 2018) [Chinese]

On September 20, Guangzhou-based lawyer Sui Muqing called the police to report that his wife, human rights lawyer Sun Shihua, had been beaten and illegally detained at the Hualin, Liwan district police substation in Guangzhou while handling a petitioner’s case.  On October 9, Sixth Tone reported on a WeChat post about the incident, noting that the Guangzhou police station had denied that Sun was assaulted or humiliated.

According to her post, Sun had accompanied a client, Li Xiaozhen, to the station on Sept. 20 to help her apply for bail for her husband, a long-time petitioner who had been criminally detained for “disturbing the work of state organs” while trying to take grievances to higher authorities in Beijing. When one officer told Li to send the bail application to the station by mail, with no explanation for why this more time-consuming process was necessary, Sun said she asked for his name and badge number — and that he then began shouting at her.

“All of a sudden, he threw his work ID card at me,” Sun said in a phone interview with Sixth Tone on Tuesday. “I was taken aback, and raised my arms to defend myself. That’s when he started yelling, ‘She’s attacking the police!’” Sun said several staff then seized her, and the officer who had been shouting at her, surnamed Chen, put his hands around her throat and began strangling her. “For a while, I lost consciousness,” she said. In their announcement on Wednesday, the police disputed Sun’s account, claiming she had grabbed the officer’s ID card.

Zhang Wuzhou, a 49-year-old petitioner who was at the police station with her 4-year-old nephew, witnessed the incident and recorded videos with her phone. “Her eyes were rolling back in her head because she was choking,” she told Sixth Tone, referring to Sun. Zhang said her phone was later taken by the police, who deleted the videos.

[…]  Li and the witness, Zhang, told Sixth Tone that they, too, were subjected to strip searches the same day. Zhang said that when she refused to delete the videos she had recorded of the male officer choking Sun, she was called in for interrogation, and that when she refused to be searched, officers began forcibly removing her clothes. They didn’t succeed in fully stripping her but were able to confiscate her phone. […] [Source]

Radio Free Asia provided more on the incident, including context on a wider crackdown on the legal profession in China, on October 12:

Sui repeatedly called the police to report the incident, but was threatened with detention for interfering with police work, it said.

Sun was finally released at the time of Sui’s post, and had been traumatized by the incident, which included a strip search, ostensibly for “hidden weapons,” Sui told RFA.

“Now she gets very anxious whenever she sees anyone in a uniform,” he said. “Sometimes she cries out in her sleep … I’m really not sure if she’s going to be able to carry on doing this job.” […] [Source]

真Since directives are sometimes communicated orally to journalists and editors, who then leak them online, the wording published here may not be exact. Some instructions are issued by local authorities or to specific sectors, and may not apply universally across China. The date given may indicate when the directive was leaked, rather than when it was issued. CDT does its utmost to verify dates and wording, but also takes precautions to protect the source. See CDT’s collection of Directives from the Ministry of Truth