Guangzhou’s Southern Metropolis Daily reports today that Peng Hong (彭洪), a Chongqing resident sentenced to two years of re-education through labor in 2009 for an online re-posting of a satirical cartoon about the city’s anti-crime campaign, has received a formal document annulling his original sentence. The government’s decision, dated September 7, 2012, comes almost exactly one year after Peng’s release from a labor facility on September 10, 2011.
Peng Hong posted a cartoon titled “Umbrella of Protection” (保护伞) to China’s popular Tianya chat forum in September 2009, in the midst of Bo Xilai‘s well-publicized campaign against crime in Chongqing. The cartoon depicted a man (apparently a criminal) running with a knife in one hand while holding an umbrella in the other hand that is topped with the head of a policeman and emblazoned with a golden coin and a government seal. The clear implication was the the anti-crime campaign was a sham in which certain criminals were actually receiving protection from the government, police and financial interests.
Peng Hong’s online post came at a highly sensitive time, as former Chongqing police chief Wen Qiang — eventually tried and executed — faced corruption charges. Chongqing authorities accused Peng with defamation (诽谤) for re-posting the critical cartoon and sentenced him to two years of re-education through labor.
The decision to annul Peng Hong’s original sentence, handed down by Chongqing’s Re-education Through Labor Committee (劳动教养委员会), states that is “was determined through re-investigation that the original decision on Peng Hong’s re-education through labor was inappropriate.”
Peng Hong received legal aid in his case from rights defense lawyer Pu Zhiqiang (蒲志强), a former CMP fellow.