China airs video confession of blogger booked for insulting PLA soldiers
The Chinese government on Monday telecast a video of an arrested blogger apologising for slandering PLA soldiers, involved in the deadly brawl against the Indian army at Galwan Valley in eastern Ladakh last June, on state-run CCTV.
In the one-minute long video played during a prime time news programme, the 38-year-old man, identified as Qiu, admitted to “annihilation of conscience” and “arrogance” in insulting the soldiers who were killed and injured in the clash with Indian soldiers. His face was blurred out and he was seen sitting behind bars in prison clothes.
“My behaviour was an annihilation of conscience,” Qiu was quoted as saying, according to a version translated to English published by state media.
“During the many years I surfed online, my writings have become more and more frivolous and arrogant. Without learning about the whole picture, I spoke ill of the heroes who gave their lives to guard our home. My words not only hurt the reputation and honour of those soldiers, but of all PLA soldiers,” Qiu said.
Qiu on Monday became the first person to be booked under the newly changed law on harming the reputation and honour of heroes and martyrs.
The ruling Communist Party of China has been frequently criticised for airing confessions of suspects – including critics and activists – before their trial. However, Beijing has continued to do so despite critics calling it a violation of the rights of under-trials.
In Qiu’s case, the telecast was aired in less than two weeks after he was detained for allegedly insulting the PLA troops on his Weibo account - the Chinese equivalent of Twitter - where he has more than 2 million followers.
Police in Nanjing, eastern China’s Jiangsu province, on Monday formally arrested Qiu, who had been in detention since February 20, for violating the law on defaming martyrs’ honour and reputation.
Qiu’s is the first reported case of a suspect being charged with violating the law on defaming martyrs under the Criminal Law that came into effect on March 1 after China’s top judicial authorities added the new clause.
“According to the supplementary articles, Qiu’s infringement of the reputation and honour of heroes shall be punished with a fixed-term imprisonment of not more than three years or criminal detention if the circumstances are serious,” the state media report said.
In a 2020 report to the United Nations, rights groups, including Safeguard Defenders and Human Rights Watch, said the Communist Party forces critics into confessions that are then aired on state-run television, making a mockery of due process and the right to a fair trial.
At least seven, including Qiu, have been arrested or detained for insulting PLA heroes and martyrs. The status of the remaining six is unknown.