Bloggers and Citizen Journalists Demand Accountability and Transparency in Guixi Rape Case

Reports of a local official in Jiangxi province arrested on suspicion of raping a 12-year-old girl while her parents were in quarantine have sparked public anger and a chorus of demands for greater accountability and transparency about the case There has been little coverage of the case by Chinese media, and the official police statement offered few details, raising as many questions as it answered.

Earlier this week, numerous social media posts alleged that the party chief of Tianlu, a small village near the cities of Guixi and Yingtan in Jiangxi province, had raped a girl while her parents were detained in one fangcang, or a makeshift quarantine hospital. Also, when the parents received news of their daughter, they were reportedly prevented from leaving the facility. A public notice Local police later confirmed that a 52-year-old man surnamed Liu had been criminally detained for the assault and that an arrest warrant was imminent. The notice also said that the parents had not been placed in a fangcang, but his whereabouts were not specified, nor was the age of the victim. A few days before the rape accusation, the Yingtan People’s Congress published a post praising Liu for his skillful handling of the pandemic. The post has since been deleted.

The crime allegedly took place on Saturday, September 10, the day of the Mid-Autumn Festival traditionally marked by family gatherings, according to 陆火Media (Weixin ID: LuhuoNews), one of the first blogs to break the story. WeChat post now deleted has been archived by CDT Chinese. Subsequent reporting by Caixin, one of the few mainland Chinese media to cover the story, confirmed the date of the crime, the age of the victim and the identity of the accused. Caixin’s Cui Xiankang, Shi Jiaxiang and Wang Xintong reported on the details of the case, including reactions from local authorities and social media users.:

Some angry social media users blamed the incident on Covid control measures, saying this tragedy would not have happened if the girl’s parents had been at home.

In a statement on Tuesday, Guixi police denied online allegations that the rape occurred when the girl’s parents were in a makeshift Covid-19 quarantine facility, after the allegations ignited anger due to the Covid control measures.

Vowing to strictly punish any rape against women and children, authorities said the victim’s parents had never been to a hospital in Fangcang. They urged residents not to believe or spread rumours, fabricate or spread information about the girl’s privacy, to avoid “collateral damage to the victim”, according to the statement.

[…] The police statement did not provide further details about the violation, but Caixin has learned that the suspect’s full name is Liu Liangzong. He serves as the head of the Liuqiao Village Party and as a representative of the Guixi People’s Assembly, the city’s highest legislature. [Source]

Many angry netizens blamed the tragedy on draconian COVID-19 measures and blamed local police for leaving important questions unanswered. WeChat blogger 桃花潭李白 (ID: IRIS-UKIYOE) noted that the police statement was short on facts and long on verbal sophistry:

The official statement issued by the municipal police department denied the rumors without stating the facts. He skillfully avoided all the issues that really concern people.

Is the rape victim a minor?

Were her parents in quarantine at the time of her rape?

By putting so much emphasis on saying that the parents were never in a real “fangcang”, the statement is simply playing word games with us ordinary people. [Chinese]

Others lamented how widespread censorship has made mainland Chinese media unable to hold authorities accountable. Former journalist Xiang Dongliang discussed this topic on his WeChat blog Basic Common Sense (GetCommonSense):

Had it not been for the fact-checking and outspokenness of bloggers and citizen journalists, this tragedy would probably never have been made public, nor would the police have issued a statement.

how do i know Because one of the bloggers (who broke the news) is someone I know. He is a journalist who works for a well-known newspaper. Upon learning of the case, he conducted interviews and confirmed facts according to journalistic best practices, and asked his publication to publish the story, only to be rebuffed. Left with no choice, he chose to publish his findings on a blog.

I am publishing this information only after validating it with two independent sources. [Chinese]

China has seen a number of high-profile cases of gender-based violence this year. In June, a group of men brutally attacked four young women at a restaurant in Tangshan, Hebei, after a woman rejected the advances of one of the men. Nine suspects were subsequently arrested and are awaiting trial. In February, a viral video of a woman shackled and shackled inside a frozen shed in rural Jiangsu sent shockwaves through social media. After weeks of public clamor, finally the official reports identified the woman as “Xiaohuamei” and admitted that she was a victim of human trafficking. The Xiaohuamei case spurred some activists to drive accountability through offline actionsa rare step in recent years, and at least two activists were arrested in retaliation for their efforts.

In all these cases, netizens have resented the suffocating censorship that has silenced most media outlets, leaving rumor mills and citizen journalism scrambling to fill the news void. This week, despite avoiding the Guixi case, many official media have focused on condemning Li Yifeng, a well-known actor who was recently arrested by the police for hiring sex workers. Online commentators and bloggers have expressed frustration that important stories involving vulnerable or powerless people are all too often. drowned for content such as light entertainment news, celebrity scandals or censor-approved “positive energy” stories. Comparison of WeChat blogger “lingu1212”. the media silence on the Guixi rape case with the avalanche of coverage on two recent prostitution scandals:

The reports [of the Guixi case] has failed to capture the attention of the Internet. Within 48 hours, actor Li Yifeng’s prostitution scandal would become the most discussed news on different platforms.

[…] Hundreds of media outlets jumped on Li Yundi and Li Yifeng’s prostitution scandals as “melon eaters”, but I have yet to see any state media comment on the party boss’s crime. [Chinese]

Weibo user @huo lamented The most important wealth of content to be removed from your social media channels:

I don’t want to read about Li Yifeng. I don’t want to read about any celebrity. At any given moment, there are things that are much more important than celebrity gossip. But it seems I don’t have much of a choice. Being forced to see things about Li Yifeng pushed to my social media feeds means I’m forced to no see other important things. [Chinese]

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