Chinese authorities arrested two men who were in possession of a children’s book that authorities labeled “seditious”.
Police and customs officers arrested the men, aged between 38 and 50, on 13 March after searching their homes and finding several copies of the book, which describes the recapture of wolves from the village. Wolves want to take over a village and eat the sheep, prompting the sheep to fight back against them.
Officials have interpreted the book in the context of Hong Kong and Beijing. According to QZ, the authorities relied on a colonial-era law to justify sending the men to prison.
The BBC reported that both men had been released on bail, but would have to report to the police over the next month. Police recovered several copies of the books during the search.
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The book, one of three in a series titled Yangcun, sparked an uproar last year when a government-nominated judge found it constituted “seditious intent” and sentenced five speech therapists to 19 months in jail for publishing it. Was sentenced.
The court stressed that the sentence was for “damage or risk of harm to children’s minds” and had the potential to sow the seeds of “destabilization”, according to The Independent.
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The judge said, “What the defendants have done to children aged four years and above was in fact a brainwashing exercise to guide very young children to accept their views and values.”
This week’s arrest would be the first for only owning the book, which critics argue represents a serious erosion of freedoms in the country.
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Hong Kong remains a special administrative region of China in line with Beijing’s “one country, two systems” understanding, but the rights granted to the island’s citizens have been gradually eroded since 2020 with the implementation of a national security law Whose purpose is to crack. widespread opposition.
Former Chair of Public Law at the University of Hong Kong, Prof. According to Johannes Chan, the use of an even older law and the vague definition of “seditious” shows the extent to which Chinese authorities can go in their efforts to restrict dissent. ,
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“If in a cartoon [a newspaper] Chan, who is a visiting professor at University College London, told The Guardian, “considered seditious, every single reader in possession of a copy of the newspaper could be guilty of the offense of possession.” “It can hardly be compatible with the guarantees of free speech in the Basic Law or the Bill of Rights.”
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