An undated photo of Memorial Hall of Dong Cunrui. (Photo provided to China Daily)
Prosecutors in Hebei province began to build a public interest litigation case on Wednesday against people they say defamed a martyr.
The action came a day after a national law protecting the reputation and honor of heroes and martyrs went into effect in China to promote patriotism and socialist core values.
The people's procuratorate of Zhangjiakou's Huailai county launched a campaign on Tuesday to investigate activities it says defame Dong Cunrui (1929-48). Dong was born in the county and killed during the civil war.
According to investigators, a cemetery in Huailai commemorating Dong is not open to the public, and there is a lot of information on the internet defaming him - an activity that is now against the law.
Memorials for heroes and martyrs should be open to the public for free, the law stipulates. It also bans activities that defame heroes and martyrs or distort or diminish their deeds. People who desecrate the names, portraits, reputations or honor of martyrs should be punished, it says.
Based on the results of an investigation, the procuratorate sent out a suggestion the next day to local public security bureaus and civil affairs bureaus, demanding that they prevent such activities.
This is a pre-litigation process, a procedure that takes place before a procuratorate files an administrative public interest litigation case in court, said He Yonggang, deputy head of the department for civil and administrative cases at Huailai county's procuratorate.
The bureau of civil affairs in Huailai was ordered to open the cemetery to the public at no charge, while the bureau of public security was told to delete online information that undermines Dong's reputation.
"If related administrative organs perform their duty after receiving a procuratorial suggestion, no lawsuit against them will be filed," He said, adding that administrative organs normally do as procuratorates demand, which saves trouble and resources.
Dong Cunrui was killed in Longhua, Hebei, in 1948 after holding up a dynamite bag to destroy an enemy's blockhouse and clear a way for fellow soldiers.
Because of his sacrifice, Dong was hailed as a war hero across China.
However, the historical facts and his status as a hero have been challenged in recent years in media articles and on the internet. Those challenges twisted the facts, authorities said.