Deng Chuanbin. Courtesy of Nanfu Wang.

Chinese Authorities Detain Filmmaker and Activist Deng Chuanbin

Deng Chuanbin, an independent documentary filmmaker and activist who is also known as Huang Huang, was arrested in China on May 17. According to ArtAsiaPacific, hours before the authorities took him from his home in Yibin in the Sichuan province, he had tweeted a photo referencing the Tiananmen Square Massacre, which followed pro-democracy student protests in 1989.

The image is of a person holding a bottle of liquor with a label that reads “64.” The number alludes to the month and day, June 4, when troops fired into crowds of people demonstrating in the square, killing hundreds. The type of alcohol shown is bai jiu, which sounds like the Mandarin word for “89” (ba jiu).

Deng is not the first to be arrested for circulating the photo, which first emerged on social media in 2016. As the anniversary of the tragedy approaches, more dissidents are likely to be detained. The Chinese government is infamous for its campaigns to suppress any discussion related to the event, since it is a taboo subject in Mainland China. The number of people and the names of those who died in the massacre were never made public.

A collaborator of Ai Weiwei and Nanfu Wang, Deng is currently being held in the Nanxi District Detention Center. After he was taken into custody, officers returned to his residence to collect some of his belongings, including his cell phones, laptop, camera, and memory cards.