By Yaxue Cao, published: April, 27, 2012
As I said in the previous post, I was on Twitter earlier this afternoon (Eastern Time, April 26, Thursday), around 1:30 pm (China Time 1:30 am, April 27, Friday) someone tweeted a post taken from Weibo saying that Chen Guangcheng’s nephew, the son of his eldest brother Chen Guangfu (陈光福), slashed a knife at a group of thugs breaking into his house. And he had called the police to surrender himself and he was now outside the village waiting for the arrival of the police. A cell phone number was provided by the tweet.
I called and didn’t really expect to find him. But I did! His name is Chen Kegui 陈克贵. In distress, speaking and crying in turn, Kegui told me what had happened. Early in the morning (April 26, Thursday), a lot of vehicles (not police vehicles, he said, at least not marked as police vehicles) and plainclothes guards descended on the village. His mother (Ren Zongju, 任宗举, CGC’s sister-in-law) overheard the guards saying on the phone that CGC disappeared and only Weijing was home. The villagers, including CGC’s relatives living in the village, had no idea what had happened. The following is a translation of the transcript of the telephone conversation I had with Chen Kegui. Parts in italic are Chen’s:
This morning my mother said, “I heard them saying in lowered voices, ‘Guangcheng disappeared, there was only Weijing at home.’” These were their own words. Later in the day when I was on my way to my father-in-law’s, I saw many police vehicles, and I thought to myself it was probably all true. All day long as I worked, I felt distracted, feeling that something was going to happen. And it did tonight.
Around midnight, about two hours ago, they entered our property by jumping over the enclosed walls, they pried open the locks and kicked on the doors. I heard my mother crying inside [earlier Kegui told me he lives in the same property with his parents but in adjoining quarters], helplessly, “Please don’t come in! Please don’t come in!”
Then I saw Zhang Jian [chief of the township Shuanghou that has jurisdiction over Chen Guangcheng’s village], a man I don’t like. I saw him right away. I went out; when I did, I took two kitchen knives with me for self-defense. Then I heard Zhang Jian saying, “Look! He has two kitchen knives! Apprehend him!”
So they moved to grab the knives from me. They didn’t have any warrant. I wasn’t the one who moved first, and it was they who tried to come to get me. I didn’t know who they were, except for Zhang Jian. They showed no papers. After they spoke these words and tried to get me, I started slashing.
As I did, my mother cried out, “Don’t! Don’t! The child has a high fever! Hurry up. Call 110!” By then they had surrounded me, one man hit my head several times with a thick wooden club. I had no choice but to slash with my knives. I broke up the club—apparently it was not very sturdy. When they saw that I wasn’t afraid, they ran away. I ran after to look for them, but saw no trace of any of them.
Fearing that I might be captured by them, beaten senseless to death, I ran away from home. At a place where I would be safe for a while, I called the police and surrendered myself. I called 120, begging them to come to save my child [who is sick]. So here I am, waiting for the police to show up.
In China, law is trampled over at will. I love my motherland, but this is what she gives me! [sobbing]
Chen Guangcheng is innocent. But they forced a charge on him. [sobbing] My father is getting old, couldn’t walk, and where did they take him? [sobbing] I feel helpless. I hope everyone can be equal in front of the law. [sobbing]
Me: Kegui, what do you want to ask your prospective lawyers? Say what you want to say, and I will record it.
I am online often. I read that a vice dean of the University of Politics and Law, his name is He Bin (何兵), even he got blocked [by Weibo for supporting Chen Guangcheng]. I have no faith at all in the law. I don’t know what outcome this will have.
Me: Kegui, regardless whether you have faith in the law or not, regardless of the outcome, just speak what your hopes are.
I hope lawyers will defend me out of reason and justice. I was defending myself; I didn’t go out to kill anyone. It was they who broke into my home and raised havoc. I hope the lawyers will defensd me out of reason. I hope everyone is equal in front of the law.
Me: Anything else?
This would be my will.
I hope the law defends me. I am just. I did not take knives to go out to kill anyone. I was defending myself in my own home. They attempted to apprehend me without showing any warrant.
If I am sentenced to death, I hope someone will help take care of my father, my mother, my family, my child. [sobbing] I have not been a good son for my parents. I have not been a good husband for my wife. I have not been a good father for my child. I hope the law will… I hope the case will be dealt with according to rights provided for by the law, not manipulated by the privileged people.
Or, China will not have a good prospect.
Me: Kegui, how old are you?
I am 32, 33. My animal sign is goat.
Me: How old is your dad?
My dad is 54. He was born in a rooster year.
Me: When was the last time you saw Guangcheng?
To be accurate, we spent the Chinese New Year together in early 2011. At that time, perhaps the government wanted….for whatever reason I can’t tell, they allowed all of us to go back for the New Year. But this year they would not let us, no matter what.
Me: This was the New Year before last, right?
Right. Just my family. On the New Year’s Day, they allowed the villagers to visit Guangcheng. Then, after midday, villagers were not allowed anymore. Since then, nobody has seen him. When one of Guangcheng’s brothers died earlier this year, Guangcheng forced his way out of the house, and I caught a glimpse of him. But ten or twenty people, led by Zhang Jian, blocked the exit of the village, and no one could pass through. Two students in the village took pictures of the scene, but the thugs took their cell phones and deleted everything. They said, “Don’t ruin your future by doing this.” That’s what they said.
Me: There have been a lot of rumors lately about Guangcheng’s deteriorating health. Living in the same village, have you heard anything?
I don’t know. No one can get close to Guangcheng. No one. Chen Guangcheng never leaves his house. Scores of people sit in his yard watching him.
Me: Your grandma, or Guangcheng’s mother, is she allowed to come out? She can’t come out either?
I haven’t seen my grandma for a long time. I have been working in the town where the county seat is, where I had a small [illegible] to keep a meager living. It’s sad to come back, so I avoided it. When I see those people, I feel sick at heart. I don’t know what tomorrow will bring. I don’t know how all this will end. Chen Guangcheng’s case is completely extralegal. [illegible] China, is it a country with the rule of law?
Me: Kegui, don’t lose heart. Many people are making efforts. Tens of thousands of people are trying to save Guangcheng….
I feel hopeless, because it’s been years, not just a day or two. Since ’05. Of course there has been some progress and I can see that. I can see that online. So many people, complete strangers to Chen Guangcheng, got beaten badly for his sake. Like what a friend of mine said, what they did lashes out on our conscience: We were so close to them, but we couldn’t go up and help them. We couldn’t do anything for them, and we left them to be beaten. It’s like my own loved ones were beaten.
I have called the police almost an hour ago. I am in the open right now. The police still haven’t come. I saw some flashing siren a while ago, but they disappeared.
I want to ask: Does China still have law? [rest of sentence illegible]
[Rest from the second recording]
My grandma is over eighty years old. So many people were guarding her every day, and she had to walk a long way to buy vegetables. Now I guess she probably isn’t even allowed to leave the house.
If Chen Guangcheng is guilty, arrest him, or execute him, according to the law. But they don’t arrest him. They don’t execute him. They do this to him. My little cousin Kesi (陈克斯) is guarded to go to school and to go home. What wrong has Guangcheng’s family committed? I don’t know what society this is, whether it has any [sobbing, illegible]. I can’t see the police siren. I don’t know whether the police are coming. Perhaps they will send a sniper to kill me. They would accuse me of killing. It’s all possible.
Me: No, they wouldn’t dare!
I believe they would dare. I absolutely believe they would. If they have dogs with them, they will find me very quickly. No need for me to hide. If I see police cars, I will walk to them. If the thugs are here and I die, I am so sorry for my family. I haven’t done anything to fulfill my filial duty and to love everyone. I can’t do anything to help Guangcheng either. At the bottom of this society, it is all so tragic.