Beijing-based documentary filmmaker held incommunicado

Beijing-based documentary filmmaker held incommunicado

Reporters Without Borders is appalled to learn that Du Bin, a Beijing-based documentary filmmaker and former New York Times photographer, has been held incommunicado since 31 May.

A newly-completed a documentary by Du Bin about a labour camp for women in Masanjia, in the northeastern province of Liaoning, was released in Hong Kong on 1 May. Entitled “Above the Ghosts’ Heads: The Women of Masanjia Labour Camp,” the film is banned in mainland China.

“The Chinese authorities must give their reasons for arresting Du Bin and holding him incommunicado, and must end his illegal detention,” Reporters Without Borders said.

“The use of such harsh methods and the failure to provide solid grounds for his arrest suggest that this is a reprisal for his success in documenting the torture, humiliation and inhuman and degrading treatment of women at Masanjia labour camp.”

Many of the labour camp’s detainees are members of Falun Gong, a banned spiritual movement that the Chinese Communist Party has been trying to crush for more than a decade.

After the film’s release, the police stepped up their surveillance of Du Bin and assigned plain-clothes officers to tail him. He was editing more interviews with former Masanjia detainees at the time of his arrest, just four days before the 24th anniversary of the bloody crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square on 4 June 1989.

The run-up to the anniversary was marked by the arrests of netizens such as Gu Yinmin, who was placed in “criminal detention” on 1 June for refusing to remove a photograph of the 1989 pro-democracy movement from his QQ account.

Two other netizens, Qiu Hua and Yang Ting Jian, are serving 15-day “administrative” detention orders in Guangzhou for trying to organize an Internet tribute to the victims of the 1989 crackdown.

There have been clear signs of an increase in harassment of independent news providers since Xi Jinping’s installation as president in March.

Sun Lin, a journalist who reports for the overseas Chinese website Boxun, was arrested on 16 April for distributing video footage of a protest against his daughter’s expulsion from her school. He ended up being held for 15 days under an administrative detention order later reclassified as “criminal detention.”

China is on the Reporters Without Borders list of “Enemies of the Internet” and is ranked 173rd out of 179 countries in the 2013 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index. Reporters Without Borders keeps track of the index for years which can be found here.

It is also named in the 2013 special report on surveillance, “Enemies of the Internet” – China. Comparitech names China as one of Top 10 Worst Country for Internet Censorship as of 2020.

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