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Acceptance Speech for the 2018 Annual Disturbing the Peace Literary Prize for a Courageous Writer at Risk

Liao Yiwu, September 27, 2018, New York City

 

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Photo: China Change.

 

I thank the award committee for conferring this honor upon me. The award is named for Vaclav Havel’s first work, his autobiography Disturbing the Peace. When translated into Chinese, however, the title of this work means about the same as “provoking trouble” (寻衅滋事). During the existence of the Czechoslovak communist regime, and under the rule of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), many dissidents have been sentenced for these “crimes”.

When the Tiananmen Square massacre of 1989 occurred, I wrote and recorded my poem “Massacre” (《大屠殺》). As the final line goes, “Faced with this unprecedented slaughter, the only survivors are the sons of bitches.” For this “disturbance of the peace” I got four years in prison, where I tried to kill myself twice. Instead of dying, I started writing as a witness, and I have not stopped since. Ten years ago, my work The Corpse Walker (《吆尸人》), which was translated by Huang Wen (黃文), again disturbed the peace.

In 2011, I bribed a triad organization to smuggle me to Vietnam. My sole aim in escaping China was to be able to publish the autobiography that I wrote in prison. I have spent the last seven years in Germany as a political asylee. I still don’t know much German, but Fischer has published eight of my books in the German language. My next book to be published in German next year will be Mr. Wang, the Man In Front of the Tanks (《王先生,挡在坦克前面的那个人》), and in it, there will be an essay titled Liu Xiaobo: The Final Days (《刘晓波的最后时刻》). It is about his persistence and our failure.

At the moment, Liu Xia (刘霞) and I are here, but her late husband Liu Xiaobo (刘晓波) and Havel have gone to a faraway place. They have finally met each other in Heaven. Two Charters, drafted by two honest men. A few days ago, before we came to New York, Liu Xia and I travelled to Prague to visit Vaclav’s younger brother Ivan. I wonder, are we still “disturbing the peace”?

I have been disturbed as well. The day after Liu Xia arrived in Germany in July, China sentenced another dissident, Qin Yongmin (秦永敏) of Hubei Province, to 13 years in prison. He has been in jail twice and is  65 years old now. Not long ago, it was reported that in my hometown of Chengdu, Sichuan, Huang Qi (黃琦), a 55-year-old dissident who founded the “64tianwang.com” [a site dedicated to documenting social injustice], suffered from kidney failure in prison and is on the verge of death. His 80-year-old mother published his will, and pleaded that “Huang Qi is not guilty”.

Havel once had a round of debates with writer Milan Kundera about protests, politics, prison, and forgetting. What meaning is there to it all? Will Qin Yongmin and Huang Qi walk out of prison alive? And if they don’t, who will record their stories? It’s not something I can do, because unlike Liu Xia and Liu Xiaobo, I don’t know enough about them or the things they have experienced.

Besides, I’ve recorded so much, but has it changed anything? New crimes are committed and simply bury the old ones.

Still, I have to keep writing.

Before I stepped onto the stage to accept my award, I found Ms. Albright and Mr. Kissinger, two former U.S. Secretaries of State, in the audience. You still have influence in China. I hope you will pay attention to the aforementioned Qin Yongmin and Huang Qi, and put pressure on the Chinese government for their release.

(Note: As a friend of Vaclav Havel, Ms. Albright accepted the Czechoslovakian Democratic Transition Commemorative Award from the Vaclav Havel Library Foundation. In her acceptance address, she expressed congratulations to Liao Yiwu for receiving the award and said, in acknowledging his request, that when she visits China, she will definitely place a request with top CCP leaders to release the two political prisoners.)

 

 


擾亂安定——無懼危難作家奬

答謝辭

廖亦武,2018年9月27日, 纽约

 

謝謝評委會授予我這個獎,它以哈維爾先生首部英文自傳“擾亂安定”命名,譯成中文就成了“尋釁滋事”,在捷克共產黨和中國共產黨統治時期,有不少異議分子都以“擾亂安定罪”或“尋釁滋事罪”被判刑入獄。

1989年天安門大屠殺發生,我寫作并朗讀《大屠殺》,結尾句是:“在這場史無前例的屠殺中只有狗崽子才能倖存!”——我“擾亂安定”,因此坐牢四年,自殺未遂兩次,卻在獄中開始一個見證人的寫作,并持續到現在——10年前那本由黃文英譯的《吆屍人》,再次擾亂安定。

2011年我買通黑社會,輾轉越南逃出中國,只為出版我的監獄自傳。我當德國政治難民已7年,還不太會德語,卻在菲舍爾出版了8本德文書,我明年的德文書是《王先生,擋在坦克前面的那個人》,其中有《劉曉波的最後時刻》,記錄了劉曉波的堅持和我們的失敗。

眼下劉霞和我在這兒,而劉曉波和哈維爾都遠走高飛,他們終於在天上見面,兩個老實人,起草了兩部憲章,而前幾天,我們去布拉格拜訪了瓦茨拉夫的弟弟伊萬……我們還在擾亂安定嗎……

我也被擾亂。我想起劉霞抵德次日,湖北另一異議分子秦永敏被重判13年,他已坐牢兩次,如今65嵗;而不久前,在我家鄉四川成都,創辦“六四天網”的55嵗的異議分子黃琦,在獄中腎衰竭,瀕臨死亡,黃琦80多歲的媽媽在網上公開了兒子的遺囑,并一再吶喊“黃琦無罪”。

哈維爾與昆德拉有過一場辯論,關於呼籲、政治、牢獄和遺忘——這一切有意義嗎?秦永敏和黃琦能活著走出監獄嗎?倘若不能,誰能記錄他們?我不能,因為我不能像瞭解劉曉波和劉霞這樣,瞭解他們的所經歷的種種。況且我記錄得夠多了,改變了什麽?新的罪行總是掩蓋舊的罪行……

可還得寫下去。

在登臺領獎之前,我發現奧爾佈賴特和基辛格,兩位前國務卿在場。你們對中國的影響力依舊存在。我希望您們關注我上面提到的秦永敏和黃琦,向中國政府提出釋放他們。

 

(註:作為哈維爾的朋友,奧爾佈賴特隨後也接受了哈維爾圖書基金會頒發的捷克斯洛伐克民主轉型紀念獎,她在答謝中對廖亦武獲獎表示由衷的祝賀,并說如果訪問中國,一定向中共高層提出釋放兩位政治犯。)

 

 


Related:

Links to vhlf:

https://www.vhlf.org/news/vaclav-havel-library-foundation-announces-liao-yiwu-as-the-2018-winner-disturbing-the-peace-award-for-a-courageous-writer-at-risk/

https://www.vhlf.org/

The Corpse Walker https://archive.org/stream/B-001-000-369/B-001-000-369_djvu.txt

 


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