Chinese authorities arrest two men for ‘seditious’ children’s book: report
The Chinese authorities arrested two men who was a children’s book which officials called “seditious”.
Police and customs officials detained the men, aged 38 and 50, on March 3. 13 after a search of their homes and the discovery of several copies of a book that describes the sheep keeping the wolves away from the village. The wolves want to take over the village and eat the sheep, pushing the sheep back.
The authorities interpreted the book as referring to Hong Kong and Beijing. Officers relied on colonial-era law to justify sending men to prison, QZ said.
Both men have been released on bail but are due to report to police next month, according to the BBC. During the search, the police seized several copies of the books.
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The book, one of three in a series called Yangcun, caused an uproar last year when a government-appointed judge ruled that it was “seditious intention” and sentenced five speech therapists to 19 months in prison for publishing it.
The court stressed that the punishment was for “harm or risk of harm to the minds of children” and the opportunity to sow the seeds of “instability”, according to The Independent.
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“What the defendants did to children aged four and over was actually a brainwashing exercise to teach very young children to accept their views and values,” the judge said.
This week’s arrests will be the first arrests for simply possessing a book, in what critics say represents a serious deterioration in the country’s freedoms.
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Hong Kong remains a special administrative region of China with a “one country, two systems” agreement with Beijing, but the rights granted to the citizens of the island are gradually easing from 2020 with the introduction of national security law this was aimed at quelling mass protests.
The use of an even more outdated law and a vague interpretation of the word “rebellious” showed how far Chinese officials are willing to go in their efforts to limit dissent, according to Prof. Johannes Chan, former Chair of the Department of Public Law at the University of Hong Kong.
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“If in a cartoon [a newspaper] considered sedition, any reader who retains a copy of the paper can be guilty of possession,” Chan, a visiting professor at University College London, told The Guardian. freedom of speech in the Basic Law or Bill of Rights.”