Censorship in China

Guizhou man who broke tragic story of dumpster boys sent on 'vacation'

Ex-journalist's blog on street children's death sees him forcibly deported to unknown location

PUBLISHED : Friday, 23 November, 2012, 1:31am
UPDATED : Friday, 23 November, 2012, 3:54pm

A former journalist who broke the story of the deaths of five street children in Bijie, Guizhou, a week ago has been sent on "a vacation" by local authorities trying to contain the fallout from the tragedy.

Li Muzi, the son of Li Yuanlong, said his father had been taken away by the authorities at 1pm on Wednesday and put on a plane at Guiyang airport for "a holiday" at a tourist destination he did not want disclosed.

"My father told me he received several phone calls before he was taken away from home," said Li Muzi, who is studying in the United States. He keeps in contact with his father over the internet and by phone. "Apparently they are trying to prevent him from helping other reporters follow up on the incident."

Li Yuanlong, a former Bijie Daily reporter, has written four postings on Kdnet.net  - a popular online bulletin board on the mainland - since last Friday  detailing the circumstances that led to the five boys' deaths in a wheeled refuse bin in Bijie's Qixingguan district that morning.

The victims, all brothers or cousins aged nine to 13, died of carbon monoxide poisoning after lighting a fire in the bin to escape the cold, according to an initial investigation by the city government.

Follow-up reports by mainland media that accused the local authorities of failing to act on parents' pleas about the five missing boys for more than a week triggered a huge outcry.

Li Muzi said he spoke to his father around 9am yesterday and his father had asked him to delete a microblog entry he had written about  the  disappearance. He said his father was worried it could have a bearing on how long he would be kept away from home.

Li Fangping, a Beijing-based lawyer who has asked the Bijie city government to provide more information on its handling of the  boys before their deaths, said the local authorities had violated the law by  ordering Li Yuanlong's disappearance. 

"It's the same kind of overkill in the name of stability maintenance that we saw in the lead-up to the Communist Party's 18th national congress," he said.
"What we're seeing now is at odds with the harmonious and beautiful China that new leadership tries to project to the world."