Who Is Xu Zhiyong (2)

— An Interview with Dr. Teng Biao, part 2 of 2

Published: April 13, 2014


Continued from Part One:

YC: I remember at the beginning of your essay The Confessions of a Reactionary, you mentioned that the three PhDs were given an award on CCTV. In other words, you were recognized as young and excellent members of society. When did you and Xu Zhiyong become troublemakers in the eyes of the government?

TB: There wasn’t a clear-cut  moment or event, but rather, a buildup of a series of events. For example, the government was very displeased with our protest against the shutdown of the Yi-ta-hu-tu BBS. This was 2004. Between 2005-2006, as I told you earlier, we were involved in a long series of cases pitting ourselves against the authorities of one level after another across China. I myself provided defenses in several Falungong persecution cases; I was among the first of a group of people to sign Charter 08; I attended the seminar marking the 20th anniversary of the Tiananmen Massacre. No doubt the government became more and more exasperated.

YCHow did the government express its displeasure?

TB: First the university administration talked to us, respectively, at the government’s behest. The talks were serviceably polite at first. Then, they warned us. After that, the political police, known as the security police, came.  The warnings were ineffective so things escalated:  I was suspended from teaching, denied promotion, put under house arrest, prevented from leaving the country….then kidnapping and imprisonment.

YC:  You said that Xu Zhiyong desired to be a mediator between the government and the people. How did he react after being repressed?

TB: He is a steadfast person.  No matter how he was repressed, he still persevered and carried on.  After 2009, the Post and Telecommunications University where he was employed suspended him from teaching. He was not allowed to leave the country and was also denied promotion. They assigned him to work in the library of the School of Liberal Arts and Law, and required him to work in the office every day.  But all of his energy was invested in Gongmeng. He would go to the library once or twice each week. Then in 2012, the university gave him an ultimatum: You will be expelled if you don’t come to work. Xu Zhiyong in turn gave the university an ultimatum too: I will quit if you don’t allow me to continue teaching.”

YC: The authorities strangled the teaching careers of you and Xu Zhiyong. You both paid the price of your career development. Your friend Yu Jiang, I looked up by the way, is the Dean of the Law School at Huazhong University of Science and Technology.

TB: Yes. It was a huge blow to me when I was suspended from teaching in 2009 for the first time. I tried many different ways to get reinstated, including writing to the university president. For me, to lose the podium was an enormous loss. For Xu Zhiyong though, Gongmeng was everything he cared about.

YCSomeone pointed out to me the fact that Xu Zhiyong didn’t sign Charter 08, implying that his political opposition is not thorough. Are there any special reasons why he didn’t sign Charter 08? Not that I think signing Charter 08 is a test for one’s political position. 

TB: This I know very well. He completely agrees with the Charter. He once told me that he hesitated and almost signed. But he stopped short of signing it because he wanted to protect Gongmeng. If he signed it, he would quickly become “sensitized.” For the sake of protecting Gongmeng, he has rarely accepted interviews by the foreign media. Prior to 2009, he had not accepted any foreign money except for once from Yale Law School. Since 2009 he has accepted not a dime from overseas. All of these precautions were to protect Gongmeng. In any case, I agree with you, not signing Charter 08 does not necessarily mean his “political opposition is not thorough.”

YCWhat led to Xu Zhiyong’s arrest in 2009? Of course,  I know it was  ostensibly “tax evasion” charges.  But in reality, was it just the last straw?

TB: It was essentially. But people had different speculations about the direct fuse of it in that situation.  Some said it was Gongmeng’s investigation of the March 14 (2008) unrest in Lhasa, Tibet. Others believed it was touched off by our involvement in the Jade Lake wetlands case (翠湖湿地案).  It was a case about land rights and had to do with some high ranking Beijing municipal officials.

YC: Could you please briefly explain the tax evasion charges?

TB: The detailed defense statement is online. A company as small as Gongmeng usually farms out accounting work to an outside accounting firm. Neither Xu Zhiyong nor I knew much about accounting. There might be some minor irregularities in terms of accounting management, but they definitely did not constitute tax evasion, which the government charged Gongmeng with.

Gongmeng outlawed by Beijing Municipality Civil Affairs Bureau in July, 2009.

Gongmeng outlawed by Beijing Municipality Civil Affairs Bureau in July, 2009.

YC: In 2009 as Xu Zhiyong was detained and released a month later, the government also shut down Gongmeng.  So there was no more Gongmeng six years into its existence.How have Xu Zhiyong’s ideas and activities changed since 2009? I remember you said somewhere that his expressions have become clearer since then.

TB: Part of it is my analysis and part of is what he told me. From his public activities and expressions, it was a turning point. Gongmeng had been constantly harassed. Every time we rented a new office, the government would pressure the landlord to force us out. The routine work was affected until its final shutdown. So we began to do more advocacy work, for example, “Citizens’ Pledge.” Wang Gongquan was the most avid promoter of it.

YC:This is in 2010. When did Wang Gongquan start to get involved in the activities of Gongmeng?

TB: He had been supporting Gongmeng long ago.  Laterhe joined our board, attending our weekly meetings and helping in decision making. He is a gentle-mannered and humble person with insightful views and efficient management skills. He began to publicly support us. Wang Gongquan was pivotal in getting Xu Zhiyong out of jail in 2009. Gongmeng was fined 1.42 million RMB. Gongmeng received a lot of donations from the public, but more than half of it came from Wang Gongquan.

During the so-called Jasmine Revolution in 2011, I and many others were arrested, but Xu wasn’t. People like me, Tang Jitian, Tang Jingling and Liu Shihui who got arrested had had a lot of street actions and were participants and organizers of many protestsand “on-site watch and protest” (围观), such as showing up outside black jails, during the “three netizens” trial in Fujian, the protest against a garbage incinerator in Panyu, Guangdong, the Ni Yulan trial, and the Chen Guangcheng trial, etc.  

YC: Xu Zhiyong wasn’t so much a street activist. Is that also because he wanted to protect Gongmeng?

TB: He was the most important organizer in rescuing petitioners from black jails. But before 2011, he rarely went to the street, mainly because he felt he needed to protect Gongmeng. After 2011, however, you could see he changed, for example, things like writing an open letter to Xi Jinping. He would never have done that sort of thing before. He didn’t want himself to become sensitized, otherwise it would destroy Gongmeng.

That Gongmeng couldn’t carry out its routine work accounted of course for this shift of his. Buta more important cause was the rise of the overall level of social movements in China. The New Citizens Movement was born out of this background. Xu Zhiyong was actively involved in the free Chen Guangcheng movement, the Anni incident in Hefei, and the campaign for asset disclosure by officials.

YCXu Zhiyong published The New Citizens Movement in late May, 2012.  Looking back, that’s the manifesto, if you will, that he issued and that marked a new chapter of Gongmeng’s endeavor, even though Gongmeng as an organization ceased to exist. But Xu Zhiyong, you and others had been promoting the concept of “citizen” before 2012. You yourself had written articles about it, including Citizens’ Virtues and Citizens’ Responsibilities in the Post-totalitarian Era (in Chinese) which you wrote in as early as 2008. So when did you guys first start to promote the social movement from the angle of citizens’ responsibilities and citizens’ rights?

许志永访谈_公民TB: Since we first got involved in public affairs a decade ago, civil rights have always been the angle from which we look at things and take action. When more people get involved, it becomes a rights movement, a social movement.  In 2004, we renamed Sunshine Constitutionalism to Gongmeng (because we were no longer allowed to register the organization with the civil affairs bureau, we had to change the name and register it with the industry and commerce bureau), and Gongmeng means “Citizens’  League.” In 2009, after Gongmeng was outlawed, we changed the name to “Citizens (Gongmeng).” Later, we simply called it “citizens.”

YC: But people still call it Gongmeng anyway.

TB: I know. “Citizens” doesn’t sound like a name for an organization, so people still kept their habit of calling it Gongmeng.  But by calling it “Citizens,” our idea is that  it is not really an NGO anymore.  Instead, whoever agrees with the idea of citizenship and is willing to bear the responsibilities of being a citizen is a member of “Citizens.”

YC: Between May 2012 and the spring and summer of 2013 when the government arrested scores of participants, the New Citizens Movement had not had the time to do more activities. In relation to the charges against them, people have been talking a lot about the assets disclosure campaign and the equal access to education campaign. Unfurling banners on the street to demand that officials disclose their assets is more straightforward. I would like you to talk a little bit about the campaign for equal access to education.  

TB: Xu Zhiyong and Gongmeng had long ago started to take up the issue of equal access to education. First, we focused on schools for migrant workers’ children, then on the study of residence permits. Later we advocated for the abolishment of the policy that bars migrant workers’ children from taking the college entrance exam at locations other than where their household registration is held.The “equal access to education” campaign aimed at minimizing the inequality between urban and rural areas in terms of education resources distribution. The “equal access to education” campaign includes the following activities: ensuring the normal operation of schools for migrant workers’ children in the cities; abolishing the household registration requirement so that these children can take high school and college entrance exams where they are living now.

Xu Zhiyong outside a subway entrance/exit in February, 2013, calling parents to petition outside the Beijing municipal education commission.  He was being questioned by a police officer.

Xu Zhiyong outside a subway entrance/exit in February, 2013, calling parents to petition outside the Beijing municipal education commission. He was being questioned by a police officer.

Initially, only four parent volunteers signed up to participate in the campaign to abolish the household registration requirement for exams, but two years later, over 100,000 signatures were collected. The Department of Education was pressured to promulgate a new policy in August, 2012, that allowed migrant workers’ children to take the college exam at the location where they live. Since then, the policy has been implemented in all provinces except for Beijing and Shanghai. After Dr. Xu was arrested, Beijing and Shanghai also issued new policies to make good on the issue.

YC: So the campaign benefited millions and millions of Chinese families and children by pressuring the Chinese government to modify its inhumane, unequal and unreasonable policies. Think about it, it’s extraordinary and a model for a social movement in China. Recently I heard from an activist who worked on the campaign with Dr. Xu thatXu zhiyong had a complete proposal with regard to public school resource distribution and the freedom to choose private schools.

Now, when the New Citizens Movement began,  you were already living in Shenzhen. How did you two communicate and coordinate your activities?

TB: Yes. We often communicated online. Later I was allowed to resumeteaching, so I had to go to Beijing every month. We had plenty of opportunities to meet, and I participated in most of the important events.

YC: Let’s now talk about the Qian Yunhui incident in 2010-2011. The citizen investigation team led by Xu Zhiyong concluded that it was a regular traffic accident in the midst of the public’s outcry that believed Qian Yunhui, the village head of Yueqing (乐清), was murdered by the colluding developer and the government. Xu Zhiyong was widely criticized, and one of his most vocal critics was none other than Ai Weiwei. Tell us more about it.

TB: I was in Beijing at the time. Xiaoshu (笑蜀), Yu Jianrong (于建嵘) and others also went to Yueqing. Gongmeng’s board discussed the matter and decided to conduct a citizen investigation. So they went. There was a lot of information online, and public opinion was tense and raw. Then one day when some of us were dining together, we saw that Xu Zhiyong published his findings on Twitter. We were all shocked because he did not discuss them with us at all. The findings were immediately and overwhelmingly criticized. When he came back to Beijing, he explained to us. He firmly believed that his conclusion was right, though he acknowledged some minor shortfalls. I rejected his findings completely. Later when he planned to publish a second edition of his report, I told him it depended on how it was written. Xu Zhiyong, Yujian and I, as well as the board,we discussed it for many rounds.

YC: So, Yu Jiang was still on the board?

Wang Gongquan (王功权). He has been freed but is under such surveillance that he is totally inaccessible.

Wang Gongquan (王功权). He has been freed but is under such surveillance that he is totally inaccessible.

TB: Yes, he still was then. The conclusion didn’t change in the second edition. And I firmly objected to it. However, Xu Zhiyong did a lot of persuasion, and convinced the majority of the board, so the second edition was published. At the time I said this incident would hurt the standing of Gongmeng and Xu Zhiyong himself, and it would take a lot of hard work and a long time to regain it.

YC: Does he still believe his conclusion was right? 

TB: He doesn’t think his conclusion had any problems. He said, this was indeed a traffic accident;  you cannotdeny the facts just because you oppose the government, something like that.Later I wrote an article titled The Schizophrenic Truth (in Chinese). My view was that, as an ordinary individual living in China, you have no power to access the body, the forensic reports and the witnesses, etc. When you have no authority to access anything, you don’t have the power to approach the truth. I am not saying your conclusion is wrong; I am saying that you don’t have the “authority” to find the truth. Therefore, you can’t reach a conclusion. The only thing you can do is to observe and question the procedure of the government’s handling of the case.

YC: He has to have some bases. What are they?

TB: The report has it and is available online. I believe he had acquired some information that he thought was very convincing. But I think the way he thought about this incident was problematic. I mentioned earlier about him being a mediator between the government and the people in a clash of the two sides. He hoped to be inthat middle role. Namely, he does not automatically side with the people for the sake of political correctness. If the government is right, we should give it credit. But of course, this government has perpetrated so much evil that almost everything Xu Zhiyong has done has been struggling against rights violations and fighting for civil liberties.

But on the Qian Yunhui matter, this is what he genuinely thinks:  None of you people has gone to Yueqing. You decided it must be a murder because of your pre-established stance. First, you could have wronged the government; and more importantly, you could have wronged an innocent person. On the latter point though, we probably should accord Xu Zhiyong some sympathetic understanding.

Xu Zhiyong in Beijing Third Detention Center in July, 2013.

Xu Zhiyong in Beijing Third Detention Center in July, 2013.

YC: After Xu’s trial in January, his wife wrote an open letter to him in which she said, I don’t blame you at all for today’s result and I accept it calmly. But it is not because what you persist in doing is noble to me. It’s because fate has pushed you the point where you must chose to persist and give up on everything else.” What are your thoughts on this?

TB: Several things are at play here: the push of events, people’s expectations, and the larger political landscape in China. But above all, it is his own commitment. He has always assumed a very important role in the rights defense movement. In 2005 when Asia Weekly(《亚洲周刊》) selected 14 rights defense lawyers as the “People of the Year in Asia,” Xu Zhiyong was featured first and given the longest introduction. Furthermore, he has always been very clear about his role. He has clear political aspirations and a rare willingness to make sacrifices. He is driven by an unusual sense of calling.

YC: When I first got involved in activism and was still finding my way, someone told me, in clearly a pejorative sense, that Xu Zhiyong harbored political ambitions. My reaction then was that having political ambitions isn’t necessary a bad thing. China needs people with political ambitions. Having known Xu Zhiyong better now, I think it would be great if China has three hundred Xu Zhiyongs who are ambitious, visionary, committed and, on a daily basis, willing to roll up their sleeves to do things.

TB: I totally agree with you. First of all, having political ambitions and aspirations is a citizen’s right. There is nothing wrong about that. Secondly, many people think politics is dirty, corrupt and cunning, and therefore involvement in politics makes you dishonest. This is not so. The political reality in China isn’t pretty, but politics itself should be beautiful. I think Xu’s political ideals have a lot of influence from Havel. Xu Zhiyong wrote an essay titled Beautiful Politics. He believes that the reason we want to get into politics is because we want to transform dirty politics into good politics, tyrannical politics into free and open politics.

YC: Xu Zhiyong has always been very positive and high-minded in his expressions. A lot of people dismiss that and make fun of it, sometimes malignantly. Indeed we live in a time of cynicism, and Xu Zhiyong’s heroism seems out of place. Today he is in jail, and as I get to know him better, I do think he is a hero.

TB: He is. His passion and perseverance in promoting democracy and rule of law in China are rarely seen. China has plenty of idealists, myself included, but his purity and idealism are rare.  Courage, restraint, self-sacrifice, enduring passion – he has these qualities. Then of course he also has some other qualities. For example, he has a doctorate in law, he is a university instructor, a former people’s congress representative, and a renowned public intellectual, not to mention all the lives he has touched, directly or indirectly, through  the work of Gongmeng.

Freedom, Justice, and Love

Freedom, Justice, and Love

YC: The New Citizens Movement has taken such a hard hit. Xu Zhiyong was sentenced to four years in jail, and Ding Jiaxi (丁家喜), Zhao Changqing (赵常青) and the rest are awaiting trial [they have since been tried, and are now awaiting a verdict]. Going forward, what can we expect?

TB: In 2003 when we three PhDs wrote an open letter to the National People’s Congress, it was published in the state-owned mainstream media, but in 2014, this has become unthinkable. Many key activists are in prison, and sweeping restrictions have been placed on civil society, ethnic minorities, the internet, education, religion, and ideology. The Party beast has once again raised its terrible head. But over these ten years, society has undergone great changes, and the resistance by human rights lawyers, rights activists, citizen reporters, public intellectuals, NGOs, and new media has never ceased. The people have never stopped putting on a fight, the space for such a struggle has grown despite continuous suppression, and social movements are beginning to take on scale and mature. The call for human rights and freedom among the Chinese people cannot be eliminated. We should be grateful for those pioneers who smash open the iron gate with their flesh, and their sacrifices and suffering are priceless. We must follow the path they have blazed for us.

YC: Dr. Teng Biao, thank you so very much. I benefited a lot from today’s conversation, and so will our readers, I think. So let me thank you on their behalf as well. Finally, off the top of your head, can you tell an anecdote of Xu Zhiyong?

TB: Let me think. During the “2003 Ten People of the Year in Rule of Law,” the TV station came and shot short videos of us in advance. In the Xu Zhiyong video – I hope you can still find it somewhere — there is one scene where Xu Zhiyong and petitioners were chatting. One petitioner gave him an apple and he took it, wiped the apple on his pants and then ate it.  This is something I could not do.  I would have most definitely washed the apple clean first before eating it. But knowing Xu Zhiyong, this is very natural of him, not a “performance” and it shows his character. In his interactions with petitioners, he has never been an outside observer, nor condescending.  He is connected to those at the bottom of society and their plight.


Part One


Chinese original

7 responses to “Who Is Xu Zhiyong (2)”

  1. Leon Dailey says:

    Article dtd March 13 s/b April 13.

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  4. […] Who Is Xu Zhiyong — An Interview with Dr. Teng Biao, Part Two, April 13, 2014. […]

  5. […] Who Is Xu Zhiyong — An Interview with Dr. Teng Biao, part 2 of 2, April 13, 2014. […]

  6. […]     http://chinachange.org/2014/04/13/who-is-xu-zhiyong-2/   2014年2月,滕彪博士来访华盛顿,我和他坐下来,我们谈了许志永,谈了公盟十年的演进,以及新公民运动。以下是访谈的全部,经过了滕博士的校订。 — 曹雅学   YC: 许志永博士2013年7月被逮捕,2014年1月26日审判并被一审判处四年徒刑。中国当局对许志永博士的枉法逮捕和判刑在中国国内以及国际上引起了很大反响。你和许志永是在北京大学读法学博士时的同学,又是2003上书人大要求废除收容与遣送制度中的三博士中的两个,你们又同是公盟创始人和新公民运动的发起人,这些年一起历经风雨走过来。我想不出这个世界还有谁比你更合适的人来谈谈许志永。我们就先讲讲你们的大学生活吧。   滕彪:我和许志永1999-2002之间是博士研究生同学,我们从师朱苏力教授,是他带的首批博士生。那时候我们经常在一起,我们俩,还有俞江,我们经常在北大西校门外的饭馆聚会,讨论问题,常常争得面红耳赤。   YC: 你们都讨论些什么呢?或者说,这么多年后,你印象最深的是哪些话题的讨论呢?   滕彪:我们讨论的话题很广,从宗教、哲学、历史到政治、经济、法律,从宏大的人性问题到具体的法律案件。讨论最多的还是宪政、民主、中国政治转型,以及劳教、城管、收容遣送、上访制度这类问题。   YC: 我从最近的一篇英语报道中才知道,许志永还在学校的时候就经常接触访民。这令我印象深刻。   滕彪:对。2001年他去辽宁铁岭为村民提供法律援助而被当地政府关押,还险些被北大 处分。他还和我描述过另外一件事,就是大学期间有一次他在家乡遇到官民冲突,他站在剑拔弩张的冲突双方中间,化解了矛盾。在我的理解中,这件事对他以后的想法有潜在的影响。他希望成为一个能够居于政府和民间之间的调解者,尽力用和平和法治的方式化解冲突。   还有就是2000年的邱庆枫事件,许志永自然而然地成为这次校园抗议事件的积极参加者和组织者,我也在静园草坪和他一起,同班同学俞江给我们递了一个条子提醒我们注意安全,这是我们三人友谊的开始。   YC:这么说公盟的成立是你们离开北大之后的事。   滕彪:对。当时我们已经成为三所大学的教师。许志永在北京邮电大学,我在中国政法大学,俞江在华中科技大学。   YC: 孙志刚事件后你们肯定经过了一些反省,然后你们决定来做这个事情。具体怎么决定成立公盟呢?   滕彪:孙志刚事件对我们影响很大,国内主流媒体以及海外媒体对我们都有很多报道。中国到处是冤案、冤情,我们的名字一旦出现在报纸上和其他媒体上,大量受冤屈的人就给我们写信、打电话,找我们联系。而许志永其实从刚到北京上博士的时候,在北京,就已经和在京上访的访民有很多联系。之后找我们寻找法律援助的就更多了。他们的想法是,你们三博士能把收容遣送制度废除,那能量太大了,他们以为他们的冤案找到我们就有希望了。后来我们就感觉要成立一个机构,要有专门的人去做,要有办公室,要有日常的工作。所以我们在十月份就成立了这个机构。当时不要公盟,叫阳光宪政,注册的名字叫“阳光宪道社会科学研究中心”。   YC:它最早的宗旨就是帮助访民、冤案啊提供法律援助,是吗?   滕彪:也不光是这个。从这个名字看,简称阳光宪政,阳光代表开放,加上宪政,所以阳光宪政已经有比较明确的政治抱负在里边了。   YC:自由、开放、宪政,这是你们三博士在学校时经常争论的问题吧?   滕彪:对呀。这是我们经常讨论的。受哈耶克等思想家的影响, (我们的)自由主义的思想发展得很快,对原来的共产主义体制的抨击力度也比较大。所以阳光宪政一开始就不限于访民救助。成立后不久,许志永就参加海淀区人大竞选。我们在北京举行了一系列的“人大代表论坛”。在北京,有一些独立竞选成功的人大代表。仅海淀区就有18个。   YC:这是哪一年?   滕彪:2003-2004年。2004年我们参与了一个事件,就是“一塌糊涂BBS”事件,北大一个影响很大的BBS被关闭。所以阳光宪政的活动从一开始就涉及民主选举和言论自由。   YC:你和许志永很近,你觉得当时对你们影响最大的著作和作者都有哪些?举几个名字。   滕彪:对他影响大的,与对我影响大的,可能还不太一样。当时影响我们比较重要的,主要是西方的自由主义思想家。像哈耶克、以赛亚·柏林、贡斯当、小说家奥威尔,再就是哈维尔。对他来说,乡村教育家晏阳初可能有重要的影响,他是甘地和马丁路德金的追随者,坚信非暴力抗争和道德力量。我们也一起阅读哈耶克、哈维尔或托克维尔。    YC:曼德拉呢?那天有人跟我说,许志永的法庭陈述有点曼德拉法庭辩护的味道,我说,我来猜测一下,许志永很可能读过曼德拉的自辩。   滕彪:许志永的陈述倒是他本人一贯的风格。甘地、曼德拉这一谱系的人他应该都很欣赏。   YC: 许志永2004年有一篇文章,叫《回到中国去》,讲述了他在耶鲁访问的生活。就我所知,你也去了耶鲁大学,你们是一起去的吗?能跟我讲讲耶鲁之行吗?都有哪些呢收获呢?   滕彪:他早一些,我是2007年去的,我们都是在中国法研究中心作访问。我记得当时一塌糊涂事件和举办人大代表论坛的时候,他正在耶鲁。他在美国期间,作为志愿者参加了美国总统选举的助选活动,好像是挨家挨户敲门拉票。   YC:许志永审判后,英国每日电讯报的Malcome Moore采访了四个在不同时期跟许志永有过接触的人,其中一个是沈阳来的访民,当时他们在北京一个地下通道住,许志永碰到了他们,跟他们了解情况,给他们送衣服和食物,而且居然还在通道住了三天,体会住在那里是什么滋味。这个被访者说,许志永身上总是带着一个黑色的本子,上面记录着访民信息,还有图片。所以你给我讲讲他在读研究生的时候跟访民的接触。   滕彪:我知道的也有限。我们在一起的时候他倒是经常提到。关于信访制度,我们讨论得很多很多:访民的悲惨遭遇以及如何从制度上解决这个问题。他经常往上访村跑,不光是上访村,还有信访局、信访办,人大信访办,国务院信访办,最高院信访办,等等。   YC:他老往这些地方跑,到底想干什么呢?   滕彪: 他觉得这些人是最能够反映中国现实的。一方面他是想要帮助他们,另一方面他也想从这些人的遭遇中了解社会现实。他根本不是像一个作家去“采风”那样的了解;他希望能够亲身地感受这些访民的痛苦和遭遇,他经常到访民村去住。而且他为了改善访民经常挨打的境况,他明知道到信访办去可能会挨打,他也要去,无数次地去。去了,他也不说自己是博士、大学老师,他就跟上访者混在一起。那些截访的,有时候以为他是上访的,连他一块儿抓,一块儿打。碰到截访者打访民,他就打抱不平,阻拦,质问,为此不知受了多少皮肉之苦。他就是这样亲身去感受。他内心深处就没有“生活状态的优越感”这种东西。   YC:什么东西驱使他这样去做呢?我觉得这是很大的一种驱动。   滕彪:我的理解是,这些年,十几年,他去推动中国的法治人权,这跟他非常强烈和非常纯粹的政治理想是连在一起的。   YC:刚才我们提到,公盟从一开始就不光是一个访民咨询中心,刚才我们讲了公盟在推动选举、言论自由方面的工作。请你再给我们讲一些公盟的典型案例吧。   滕彪:2009年许志永被抓的时候,我和杨子云整理了一篇文章,叫做《公盟这六年做了什么》,比较详细地讲了公盟从2003到2009期间所做的事情。许志永去年也写了《这十年》。孙大午、临沂暴力计划生育调查、涉及宗教自由的蔡卓华案、承德死刑冤案、撰写信访报告、推动北京律协直选。其他大的案件还有三聚氰胺毒奶粉、黑砖窑事件¹等,他还为喻华峰和程益中做辩护人。还有陕北石油案和营救朱久虎。我记得当时我和李和平、高智晟、许志永四个人,跑到陕西靖边的看守所,出来后我们就在看守所拍照,拍照完就往外走。走出去一百来米,十几个武警上来把我们拦住了,样子很吓人。当时我们毫无畏惧,谈笑风生,还跟他们有说有笑,我们还站在一边拍照。这是2005年。   YC:我好像见到过你说的这张照片。   滕彪: 2005年我们写了一个《中国人权发展报告》。美国每年出人权报告,基本上百分之百的批评,中国每年出自己的人权报告,掩盖问题、自我表扬。许志永说,我们要出一个客观的、站在民间立场的报告,他有进步我们也要肯定,他有问题我们要批评。同时不光批评,还要给出政策建议。这是许志永的一贯想法:不为反对而反对;他认同“理性、建设性”。他当时不用“反对”这个词。“政治反对”这个词近几年才用得多起来。当时我们作为大学老师,基本上还没有被政府认为是麻烦制造者。   另外他为承德冤案也付出了很大心血。   YC:后来承德冤案怎么样了?   滕彪:到现在还没有解决。那四个人已经被关了17、18年了,还在监狱中。许志永去过很多次,林峥去过几次。我和其他好几个律师都去过。   打工子弟学校他也倾注大量心血。去做调查研究,为这些孩子争取受教育权。   YC:这是在教育平权运动之前?   滕彪: 这是2006年,甚至更早。2006年是正式立项,做研究报告。   2009年北京律协直选,这个公盟也做了大量工作。   YC:那律协直选的结果如何呢?   滕彪:没有成功。 北京律协完全被官方控制,它不但没有民主化,而且事后还报复许多推动律协直选的律师,不给年检啊,吊销执照啊,当局进行了各种报复。   还有就是推动政府信息公开。当时在公盟办公室的杨慧文律师在这方面做了大量工作。给北京77个政府部门写信,要求公开这样那样的信息。   YC:请你简单总结一下你刚才提到的那个《信访报告》好吗?这是一份什么样的报告,给谁的,提出了什么?   滕彪:公盟“中国信访问题研究报告项目小组”花费了大量时间,在全国三个县和北京上访村进行实地调查研究,完成了近20万字的深入报告。在项目结束之际,公盟邀请到全国范围内关注信访问题的知名学者和政府官员,召开了一个大规模的信访专题研讨会。报告在当时得到广泛的流传,引起了更多的公众关注访民这个特殊的群体以及中国信访制度的现状。   YC:所以可以说,你们公盟,包括许志永、你还有很多人在内,在最初的几年里,你们对中国社会的很多方面和问题应该说已经做了相当的了解和研究。这样说客观吗? […]

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