A teacher who published online photos of schools that collapsed due to the Sichuan earthquake has been ordered to serve one year of Reeducation-Through-Labour, according to Human Rights in China.
Liu Shaokun, a teacher at Guanghan Middle School in Deyang City, Sichuan Province, travelled to heavily-hit areas after the May 12 earthquake, took photos of collapsed school buildings, and put them online. In a media interview, he expressed his anger at “the shoddy ‘tofu’ buildings.” The government has acknowledged that 7,000 schools collapsed during the earthquake, and that an estimated 11,000 students and teachers were among the nearly 70,000 deaths. Liu was detained June 25 at his school. After his wife demanded to know how and why he was placed in Reeducation-Through-Labour (RTL), she was told her husband would serve one year for “inciting a disturbance.” Under RTL regulations, public security authorities may issue an order to anyone to serve up to four years without trial or formal charge. “Instead of investigating and pursuing accountability for shoddy and dangerous school buildings, the authorities are resorting to RTL to silence and lock up concerned citizens like teacher Liu Shaokun and others,” said Human Rights in China Executive Director Sharon Hom. HRIC is an NGO founded by Chinese students and scholars in March 1989. Education International has no affiliates in mainland China, but continues to encourage its member organisations to support efforts by the authorities and international aid agencies to establish interim education arrangements for the estimated three million children affected by the earthquake.
This article was published in Worlds of Education, Issue 27, September 2008.