By Chen Guangfu
Chen Kegui was tried and sentenced to three years and four months in prison on November 30th for “intentional harm.” Following the trial, his family received a statement, supposedly by Kegui, that he “abandons appeal.” Throughout his detention and trial, Kegui was denied access to his own defense lawyers. As someone who spoke to him shortly after the event that sent him to jail, I simply cannot stop marveling at how blatantly, and also how comfortably, power is abused in China. It’s sickening; it’s chilling. We translated his lawyers’ statement earlier, today we present a rebuttal by his father.
On April 20, 2012, the blind Chen Guangcheng, risking his life, made an escape from his own heavily guarded home. After that, he passed through many hands that eventually ushered him into the US embassy in China. A week later, the local government in Shandong found him missing. For some in power, it was a bolt from the blue.
Through the grapevine
On the 26th of April at about 9:30 am, Kegui’s mother Ren Zongju heard at the village entrance a stranger make a phone call: “Guangcheng’s home only has Yuan Weijing and the old lady – Guangcheng’s not in sight.” She notified me of this information over the phone as I was on my way home.
The men who scaled the walls enclosing my property and intruded my house
Despite the event, that day went as usual. Around midnight, as soon as I lay down and turned off the light, after taking care of my grandson who was ill with a fever, I heard a vehicle braking outside my yard. I knew they were here for us, so I got up quickly to get dressed. As I had barely pulled my pants on, a crowd of men who got in by scaling my walls, wrapped my head with the jacket I had not had a chance to put on, and took me away with them with my hands tied behind me. I heard that the court had recognized, during the trial, that these people scaled my walls and the gate was opened from inside. The fact is, they damaged the gate lock from inside, and they kicked the door to the house open. Zhang Jian’s testimony reads, “We told Chen Guangfu why we were there: we needed him to assist in the investigation regarding Chen Guangcheng’s illegal entry of the US Embassy.” This is a complete lie, and he said nothing like that. The fact is, the first group of men who broke into my property were officers of the Economic Investigation Team, of the Public Security Bureau of Yinan County, including their leader Xue Kewei. But none of them wore uniforms, nor did they present any warrant. Instead, they kidnapped me and then tortured me for a long time.
The sword that chops the devils
After abducting me, not long after (approximately 20 minutes later), Zhang Jian brought numerous unknown wooden club wielding individuals to invade my home, and without any legal procedures began to ransack boxes and chests in various rooms, and search my home. They took cash, cell phones, the address book, and other items from the house, and began to savagely beat Kegui’s mother. Moreover, they smashed the TV set, sewing machine, furniture, and pried open locked drawers. The thugs who broke into Kegui’s room clubbed him as he moved from the backroom to the outer room, from inside the house out to the courtyard. He was knocked down a number of times, and his face, neck, arms, legs, and several areas were all injured. Kegui called out to his mother, and Kegui’s mother held Kegui to protect him. Kegui said, “Mother, I’ve about been beaten to death, yet you’re still holding me.” At this time, these inhuman thugs grabbed Kegui’s mother by the hair and started to beat her violently. In this extremely dangerous situation where if you don’t resist you will be beaten to death, Kegui picked up a vegetable knife but did not immediately strike back. At this time, Zhang Jian shouted at the numerous thugs he brought along: “Get him under control!” These roughnecks rushed in like a swarm of hornets, and so Kegui had no alternative but to wave the knife in self-defense. But their beating, smashing, and robbing were all euphermized in court as “looking for a cell phone.” The fact is that Zhang Jian twice brought people to invade the residence and carry out illegal searches – which included beating, smashing, and robbing. TV and sewing machine were smashed, Kegui’s mother now suffers from traumatic periarthritis in her shoulder, a wooden club was broken when a thug swung it at Kegui’s head and missed and hit the TV set instead, and Kegui was injured in many spots. The two cell phones I normally use, Kegui’s mother’s cellphone, and Kegui’s cellphone were all stolen, cash, goods, and materials all disappeared without a trace from the pried-open desk and locked drawers. Is there any question of the robbing, smashing, and stealing? In the face of unlawful infringement, in order to survive, a hot-blooded young man finally brandished a knife of justice. What crime is it to defend oneself legitimately and to protect family? Zhang Jian didn’t lose his cellphone until this point, so it is a blatant lie for him to say the purpose of his visit was to look for his cellphone.
Additionally, when I was being tortured, the Secretary of Yinan County Politics and Law Committee and Head of Public Security Ma Chenglian said to me, “Your son knifed someone.” I asked him, “Where did it happen?” Ma said, “At your home.” I responded at the time, “Just as long as it wasn’t out on the street.” All of their crimes should have been recorded by HD cameras installed in the southwestern corner of our home’s courtyard.
After Kegui left home, a mixed group of uniformed public security and party officials and hired thugs intruded my home for the third time and grabbed Chen Kegui’s mother by the hair while she was giving her grandson medicine, pulled her off the bed, and began vengefully beating her. Kegui’s mother kept yelling: “Help! Help! They’re killing us!” The wild thugs kept hitting while saying: “Scream ‘help’ all you want! Go ahead, scream!” The neighbors all heard her yells.
As for Kegui mother’s testimony (she is illiterate), it was under police intimidation: “If you’re told to sign, then sign. If you don’t sign then you can die right here. Anyway, you don’t have human rights. As a matter of fact, she told me (when hearing “her” testimony): “These are all lies, I never said these kinds of words.”
It’s not hard to tell that Kegui’s so-called recounting of events was pieced together by inducing him to make a confession. If what Kegui said is true, Zhang Jian shouldn’t have been cut only 20 times. It’s clear Kegui’s story doesn’t match up with the facts, nor could it be the truth he knew. Given that this completely-flawed narrative was accepted by the court and “confirmed” by Kegui during the trial, you can very well imagine, behind the scenes, how many secrets of extortion and torture there have been. Chen Kegui’s statement says, “At the time, Zhang Jian and the people he was leading were empty-handed.” This account does not match the facts at all. How could Chen Kegui testify as such when the wooden club that hit him was broken?
The “public trial”
During the court hearing, media called to ask the Yinan Court about the Chen Kegui case. A court spokesperson said, “The trial is open to the public. Observation and interviews are welcome.” But here is the reality:
As Chen Kegui’s parents, Ren Zongju and I didn’t learn that the trial would begin at 2:00 pm until 10:30 am that day from an appointed lawyer. We immediately hurried to the Yinan County court, and arrived at 1:30 pm prepared to observe the proceedings. But lawyer Song Kuiyuan told me “You are a witness according to the case file.” I said “I am Kegui’s father. I want to observe the proceedings.” Song said “You won’t be able to get in.” I said “I will make a demand and see.”
But as soon as we approached the entrance of the county court, we were surrounded by many plainclothes policemen. With understanding, I took out my ID card and said “I am Kegui’s father. I have come to demand to observe the proceedings in the Kegui case.” Two official-looking people said, “Wait right here.” After waiting over half an hour, I didn’t see any court representatives, except for more than 10 plainclothesmen watching me.
Afraid that Kegui’s mother would worry about me, I followed the arrangement to meet with Kegui’s mother on the street across from the court. I found that she was also surrounded by over 10 plainclothesmen. Then we were held inside a government vehicle. If we tried to get out of the vehicle, the plainclothesmen would say “Why would you get out, get in quickly, get in quickly…” While waiting for over three hours surrounded by plainclothesmen like that, we didn’t have a single person from the court meet with us. Across the street from the court, there were over a hundred plainclothesmen around.
After the court hearing ended, I heard a siren. Through the vehicle’s glass window, I tried to have a peek at my son, but in an instant, the vehicle we were in was surrounded tightly by plainclothesmen. The trial ended just like that, and we were unable to take even one step inside the courtroom. How is that public? How is that just?
It was reported that there were checkpoints set up at all the intersections leading to the Yinan court. Pedestrians and vehicles were inspected before passing through. Even tens of kilometers away, checkpoints were set up at intersections leading to Yinan county to inspect vehicles from outside the county. Locals who had been concerned about the case were being “taken care of” by the government. Even as far as in Beijing, Hu Jia was put under house arrest illegally starting on the evening of November 29 to prevent him from supporting Kegui and witnessing this unlawful trial.
In 2006, they charged Chen Guangcheng fictitiously and tried him with falsified testimonies. They have done it again with Chen Kegui.
Chen Kegui’s trial was a mockery and insult to justice and fairness. Chen Kegui’s sentence trampled the law and devastated human rights. It proves that the rule of law in China exists in name only. Not only was the sentence passed in this case essentially illegal, but every step of the judicial procedures also fell short of the law. As Chen Kegui’s next-of-kin, we demand a public re-hearing of this case.
History is created by the people. Water can support a boat or capsize it. Are those in power not aware of a rule as plain as this?
December 6, 2012
Dongshigu village, Yinan county, Linyi municipality, Shandong Province.