Human rights lawyer banned from mainland microblogging sites
Leading human rights lawyer Pu Zhiqiang has been banned from all microblogging platforms on the mainland after he used them to publicly criticise recently-retired security tsar Zhou Yongkang.
Pu's accounts on three major microblogging sites - Sina, Tencent and Sohu - were suspended on February 8, two days after he posted accusations of human rights violations against Zhou, who oversaw internal security for the past decade.
In his posts, which were widely commented on and reposted, Pu said Zhou had "wrecked a country, ruined the people". The posts were soon deleted.
Pu said he opened two other microblogging accounts on Sina Weibo, the mainland's most popular microblogging site, on February 9 but both were deleted four days later.
He tried again, opening another Sina Weibo account on February 14, but it lasted just four hours before being deleted by internet censors. Pu's name is still searchable on the microblogging sites.
Pu, who took part in the 1989 pro-democracy protests as a student and is now a prominent rights lawyer based in Beijing, has been involved in a number of high-profile free-speech cases.
In its first issue this year, Nanfang People magazine, a sister to the outspoken Southern Weekly, published a cover story about Pu and his fight for freedom of speech on the mainland.
He has also advocated the abolition of the decades-old laojiao (re-education through labour) system, which gives police powers to detain people - often dissidents - without trial.
Pu said the suspension of his microblogs might have been due to his criticism of Zhou. In his post, Pu said too many human tragedies had been directly attributed to Zhou's policies and his stability-maintenance apparatus. "Stability maintenance is the worst evil for instability in China," he wrote.
Pu has received a wave of public support, with many people reposting remarks by Communist Party chief Xi Jinping - originally directed to officially sanctioned non-communist groups - that the party should be able to put up with sharp criticism.
"Practise what you preach," one Sina Weibo microblogger commented. "Actions speak louder than words."