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In Statement, Journalist Shi Tao Protests Deletion of WeChat Contents

June 5, 2015

In a statement of protest (see below), Shi Tao, a journalist who served eight years of a ten-year prison term, says that contents in his social networking WeChat account were deleted in recent days, in the lead up to the 26th anniversary of the June Fourth crackdown on the 1989 Democracy Movement. He adds that he is aware of targeted deletion of the contents of an increasing number of WeChat accounts.

Shi urges resistance of censorship and documentation of official corruption: “Freedom of speech is the foundation of our equal coexistence, and enables us to maintain our dignity when we are arrogantly and harshly suppressed by the high and mighty. I would rather die speaking out than live in silence. Let every one of us cry out courageously for freedom!”

In April 2004, in advance of the 15th anniversary of the June Fourth crackdown, Shi sent via email to an overseas Chinese-language website an official directive restricting media coverage of the anniversary. The email account information Yahoo provided to Chinese authorities was used as evidence to convict Shi of leaking “state secrets.” He was released on August 23, 2013.

Below is the statement in English translation.

Statement by Shi Tao

June 5, 2015

[English translation by Human Rights in China]

To my relatives and close friends:

On June 5, 2015, my WeChat “Moments” [similar to a Facebook timeline, where photos, video, and text can be posted and shared] were blocked, and no individual or group has claimed responsibility for this action. Even some terrorist groups, which operate openly, would not stoop to this sort of shadiness. I have since learned that more and more people’s Moments have been blocked in a targeted manner. Yet, when I went online specifically to activate my WeChat functionality, I discovered that the system was working just fine, which only goes to prove that this social networking system, WeChat, has despicably sunk to being an accomplice to the officials. On this, I state the following:

  1. I strongly protest WeChat developers’ collusion in this oppression.
  2. I sternly condemn the unlawful act of blocking the Moments functionality of WeChat, which is in gross violation of the account users’ legitimate rights and interests.
  3. I will, to my utmost ability, learn and use various communication methods to ensure the unimpeded flow of speech, and guarantee that the right to free access to information will not be violated again.
  4. I suggest all of my dear friends use various means to gather and store all related information and materials, in order to counter the ever more odious restrictions on information and public sentiment.
  5. I suggest everyone use all legal means and technical skills to collect, in accordance with the law, evidence of suspected criminal violations by corrupt officials at all levels of government, in order to hold them accountable in the future in accordance with the law.
  6. Continue to pay close attention to important news, to break through the information blockade, seek truth from facts, and safeguard fairness and justice in society.
  7. The suppression of freedom of expression in mainland China has entered the harshest, most brutal, and most intense phase in the 21st century. Historical facts have demonstrated that freedom has never been granted from above: it requires every one of us to fight for it, to struggle for it, with every keyboard, every mobile phone, every post and repost. All the sacrifices we make today are made so that our future generations will not feel shame for our cowardice and purposeless lives.

Freedom of speech is the foundation of our equal coexistence, and enables us to maintain our dignity when we are arrogantly and harshly suppressed by the high and mighty. I would rather die speaking out than live in silence. Let every one of us cry out courageously for freedom!

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