China: Two journalists who systematically document protests on social media detained, Lu Yuyu subsequently sentenced to 4 years in jail

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Article
13 August 2017

China: Court sentences labour activist Lu Yuyu to 4 years in prison after documentation of labour unrest

Author: Chun Han Wong, Te-Ping Chen, Wall Street Journal (USA)

"China Sentences Activist to Prison for 'Picking Quarrels'", 3 Aug 2017

A Chinese court handed a four-year prison term to an activist known for documenting social unrest in China, in a case that has underscored Beijing’s harsh approach to managing labor tensions. Former migrant worker Lu Yuyu was sentenced...after being convicted of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble,”...“Picking quarrels” is a vague legal term that authorities have used to prosecute dozens of activists and political dissidents, who have increasingly been the target of suppression...

A former migrant worker, Mr. Lu had worked with his girlfriend to collect information about public protests and worker strikes that he then tallied on social media. Authorities detained the couple in June 2016, closing a rare window on social unrest and labor tensions in China...

He published his findings on a blog that labor activists later relied on as a database on worker protests, which in recent years have climbed as China’s economy has slowed...

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Article
5 July 2016

What Do Lu Yuyu’s Statistics of Protest Tell Us About the Chinese Society Today?

Author: Wu Qiang, China Change

“June 13, Monday, 94 incidents,” Lu Yuyu’s last tweet read on June 15. On June 24, the news spread that Lu Yuyu (卢昱宇) and his girlfriend Li Tingyu (李婷玉) were detained for “provoking disturbances.”…This is what Lu Yuyu and Li Tingyu have been doing for four years every day: researching, tallying, and publishing information about protests in China…

…Lu Yuyu…[identifies] the basic information about each incident through text and photos posted online. Then he searches other sources to verify the information…before posting it online…highlighting incidents involving more than 1,000 protesters…Lu Yuyu’s record-keeping is unique and irreplaceable…[T]he Chinese government stopped publishing statistics on “mass incidents” in 2008…

The most obvious change was after 2013, when the proportion of land dispute cases dropped and the number of labor disputes and urban protests increased. Labor rights protests often revolve around unpaid wages and social security issues, while urban resistance mostly related to “Not-In-My-Back-Yard” activism and other specific complaints — for instance, equal access to education…opposition to police violence, and so on…

Lu Yuyu summed it up…that, given the same protest, those in rural areas are more likely to be suppressed, while urbanites are more likely to be successful…Since 2015, Lu Yuyu found that the number of protests…shot up…In the first half of 2016 the number continued to climb, while the number of large protests involving 1,000 people or more reached about 40 per month…

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Article
27 June 2016

Two Chinese journalists detained for 'picking quarrels and provoking trouble

Author: Committee to Protect Journalists

The Committee to Protect Journalists is alarmed by the detention of Lu Yuyu and Li Tingyu, who systematically document protests on social media websites…on suspicion of "picking quarrels and provoking trouble," according to reports…It is unclear where Lu and Li are currently held. It is also unclear whether Lu and Li were detained for their work documenting protests…

Lu, a former migrant worker…has been reporting and archiving protests around China since…2012…Lu collects information about various kinds of protests - including those against land expropriation, wage arrears, official corruption, and environmental pollution -- on Chinese social media platforms, often posted by participants and witnesses. After organizing and verifying the photos, videos, and texts, Lu publishes the information on his own social media accounts, including Twitter, Weibo [owned by Sina], Blogspot, YouTube and Google Drive. Li has worked with Lu in documenting the protests…

The charge "picking quarrels and provoking trouble" has been increasingly used in recent years against journalists in China. At least two journalists have been detained on the charge this year, while another journalist was sentenced in April to nearly five years in prison for the charge, CPJ reported at the time…

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