Paying Homage to Liu Xiaobo from Behind Bars

By Wu Gan, July 31, 2017

Writing from a detention center in Tianjin, well-known activist Wu Gan (吴淦) is among the last of the 709 detainees. — The Editors


Wu Gan_yunnan

Wu Gan in Yunnan.


I recently heard the news of Liu Xiaobo’s (刘晓波) death in prison from liver cancer. I also heard of the videos of medical experts treating him, supposedly showing what a “happy life” he led in jail, where he was even allowed to play badminton. I don’t want to be a conspiracy theorist — but who benefited the most from his contraction of liver cancer? It certainly is a beautiful resolution to the hot potato of an annoying Nobel Peace Prize laureate.

There have been other deaths in prison — that of Li Wangyang (李旺阳) and Cao Shunli (曹顺利) — but people probably feel they’re far removed. So I’m going to talk a bit about my own imprisonment. I want everyone to understand that a wolf will always be a wolf. Under the manipulation and control of a certain Organization [the Chinese Communist Party], doctors and hospitals sometimes become tools for harming people. Sometimes the camera is only there in order to conceal the truth.

Wu Gan 12 crimes

The 12 crimes of Wu Gan, according to the prosecutors

The authorities, in order to make me confess, attempted to make me a media propaganda item, having me say that I’d relinquished my right to hire a lawyer. They used all manner of torture against me. After a year of this, I still hadn’t given in. Suddenly at the end of September 2016, I was unexpectedly and coercively transferred to the Tianjin Public Security Hospital. Of course, it wasn’t because I was so ill that I needed to be hospitalized. What they were planning was to use abusive treatment against me to ruin my body and crush my will, to put me in a high-pressure, terrifying environment, and frighten me into submission. I was kept in a bed and attached to monitoring devices 24 hours a day — including a blood pressure and electrocardiograph machine. Every 30 minutes the blood pressure cuff on my arm would automatically inflate. It woke me up throughout the night. My chest had wires all over it, and I couldn’t turn over in my sleep or get a good night’s rest. Every day they put me on a drip, drew blood, and forced-fed me drugs. But they wouldn’t give me any of the medical reports — another way of trying to inspire terror. I didn’t know why I was in hospital, or what they were treating. But I know my own body. I didn’t have any blood pressure or heart problems.

They even arranged a “Fifty-Center Patient Actor” (五毛病号演员) [i.e. a government agent pretending to be a patient] to be in the ward with me, exhorting me daily to cooperate with the government. When I couldn’t stand it any longer I cursed him out furiously; at that point his shtick was up and they transferred him out. Once I realized that the Tianjin Public Security Hospital was cooperating with the Special Task Group (专案组) assigned to my case to harm me, I began rejecting their fake treatment, which was real persecution. At that point they had no choice but to lock me up again in the Tianjin Municipal No. 2 Detention Center. When my cellmates saw the state I was in after the “treatment,” they were shocked. I was emaciated and pale to the point of frightening them.

After the torture in hospital failed to achieve their goal, they moved me back to a detention center cell and shackled my feet to my hands (工字链) — initiating a new form of torture. The suffering that this posture causes is impossible for anyone who has not experienced it to understand. After this torment went on for a while, and they saw that I still would not submit, on top of the fact that my lawyers were about to visit, they took them off.

The video they have of Liu Xiaobo playing badminton puts me in mind of the time that I wasn’t allowed outside to feel the breeze or see the sun for over 200 days. Suddenly, one day, they let me get some fresh air — and there were the detention center guards, recording it on their cell phones and with video cameras, collecting a few precious images of my “happy” time in detention. I thought to myself: If one day I die in here, these images of me “happily taking in the fresh air” will be trotted out — just like those of Liu Xiaobo playing badminton. This is the Hall of Mirrors that is China.

Liu Xiaobo’s death from cancer made me think of the Special Task Group assigned to persecute me at the Tianjin Public Security Hospital. I didn’t want to become the next Liu Xiaobo, Li Wangyang, or Cao Shunli, so on July 5, 2017, I told them that I demanded, in the presence of my lawyers, to be transferred to another facility — an AAA hospital [the most advanced in China] — for a physical examination, and I demanded the right to see the results, read my medical files, and make copies of them. I also demanded that there be scheduled check-ups at that point onwards. I also said that I would be holding accountable every person that was responsible for the abusive “treatment” I was given. They immediately sealed up my medical records and none of my reasonable demands have met with a response.

In light of all the above, I would like to call upon the public and the international community to understand the true plight of Chinese dissidents in custody. There are so many others who, for all manner of reasons, cannot openly expose what they have experienced. Of course, my speaking the truth today may meet with retaliation, and I might be given a heavy prison sentence. But in the end, someone has to stand up. I’m using my true, personal experiences to tell everyone the cruel truth behind the facade: if there is no liberty, democracy, and rule of law in China, the tragedy of Liu Xiaobo won’t be the last, and the Communist Party’s violence will not stop. The long-term torture I was subjected to has gradually begun to seriously harm my body — and the abuse hasn’t stopped. For instance, the two hours of fresh air I’m supposed to have a right to every day is not at all guaranteed. The food we’re given is worse than pig slop. And there’s far more I could say.

Liu Xiaobo has already left us. He’s in Heaven now, far from the torture and abuse he suffered, and there are no more screenshots they can share of his “happy life.” I hope that Liu is bathed in the radiant light of truth, and that he’s now free and unhindered. I hope that I’m able to help fulfill the wish of our respected friend, and help establish a civilization of liberty, democracy, and the rule of law in China.

Xiaobo, rest in peace!


Wu Gan
July 25, 2017




Bill of Indictment Against Rights Activist Wu Gan, January 12, 2017

Wu Gan the Butcher, Yaqiu Wang, July 22, 2015

Activist Who Rejected TV Confession Invites CCTV Interviewer to Be Witness at His Trial, Wu Gan, March 24, 2017

To All Friends Concerned With the Imprisoned Human Rights Activist Wu Gan and the 709 Case, Xu Xiaoshun, father of Wu Gan, May 22, 2017


Translated from Chinese by China Change.





7 responses to “Paying Homage to Liu Xiaobo from Behind Bars”

  1. Marcia says:

    Fortunately, China still has some “pines and cypresses”. Though the leadership mistreats them, they are what ennobles the country and its people. Thank you, 吴淦, and thank you to those special few of your compatriots who show similar courage!

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