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From Sea to a Sea of Words: Poet Ensnared as China Shuts Down Commemoration of Liu Xiaobo

Yaxue Cao, September 14, 2017

 

浪子纪念刘晓波的诗02

 

It’s said that when Liu Xiaobo (刘晓波) won the Nobel Peace Prize in October 2010, one of his friends wept. But he wasn’t shedding tears of joy. “He will never get out alive,” the friend said. At the time, the 55-year-old Liu had just begun his 11-year sentence at the Jinzhou Prison in Liaoning Province. The prediction that he won’t make it out alive was a difficult one to credit even for the most pessimistic observers of China’s political system (of which, in China, there is no shortage). Anything can happen in 11 years. Many more people — in particular Liu’s large group of friends — were able to bite their tongues until the day Liu was to be released, and the day on which a page in Chinese politics might, just might, be turned.

On July 13, 2017, the omen became reality.

Chinese internet users have employed the term “crush the bones and toss the ashes” (挫骨扬灰) to describe what was done to the remains of Liu Xiaobo. This phrase both expresses the sequence of events, and also most imaginatively captures the hatred and belligerence the Chinese Communist Party has toward Liu Xiaobo the person and Liu Xiaobo the symbol. As far as the Party is concerned, not only must Liu die, but he must also not leave behind anything that people can gather around and commemorate.

The Chinese authorities perhaps thought that a sea burial would be the most thorough method of expunging all traces of Liu Xiaobo — but not so, as memories are more about hearts and minds than materiality. “Wherever the ocean is, there is Liu Xiaobo.” The ocean itself became Liu Xiaobo’s tomb. From Dalian to Guangdong, the Chinese government has spared no effort to detain supporters who went to the coast to hold memorials for Liu. The signalling by the authorities is clear: no commemoration of Liu Xiaobo is permitted.

From when Liu Xiaobo was suddenly admitted to hospital with liver cancer on June 26, to when he died three weeks later, numerous social media users composed poems to express their shock and grief. Poet Meng Lang (孟浪) said: “On July 13, the night of Xiaobo’s death, poems of memory and dirges flooded forth from the internet. WeChat groups and public accounts widely spread many moving poems.” The poems, of course, were pounced upon and deleted by China’s armies of censors working overtime.

“The authors that made up this literary whirlwind,” Meng Lang said, “knew that when they read the news they were reading history; they were reaching through to history as they touched the present.” Editors and publishers had the same idea and reached out to Meng Lang: they invited him to pull the poems together to form a compilation.

The 49-year-old Guangzhou poet Langzi (浪子, real name Wu Mingliang 吴明良) and Meng Lang in Taiwan got to work editing the anthology. Meng Lang told China Change that the selection and editing of about 200 poems is already done. Authors range from anonymous internet users to famous poets; from the youngest, at 20 years old, to the oldest, at over 80.

On August 18, the Guangzhou police came for Langzi with an arrest warrant.

The anthology was originally scheduled to be published in September, but Langzi’s detention has put those plans on hold.

The Chinese authorities seem determined to find a couple of “criminals” among all who have commemorated Liu Xiaobo, thus “killing a chicken to scare the monkeys.” On June 26, after the news emerged that Liu Xiaobo was in hospital, Langzi added his name to a declaration calling for Liu’s release, and gave an interview to Hong Kong’s TVB. Shortly afterwards, police set up a surveillance camera outside his apartment entrance, then on June 30 summoned him for an interrogation. On July 1, Guangzhou police detained him for 10 days on the charges of “damaging a police bicycle.” Langzi explained to his lawyer that all he did was shove away a bicycle the police left blocking his doorway.

The police also wanted to know whether the poet was behind a group called Freedom for Liu Xiaobo Action Group (自由劉曉波工作組) that emerged soon after the news of Liu Xiaobo’s terminal illness.

 

Langzi, 一種開端

The scene of the “illegal business operation” in September, 2017, in Guangzhou.  Photo: http://www.gznf.net/article-4117-1.html

 

If he wasn’t involved in editing the anthology of poetry, Langzi’s troubles might have ended there. But on August 8, personnel from the Administration of Press, Publication, Radio and Television of Guangzhou Municipality raided Langzi’s apartment. Last year the poet had published a personal collection titled “A Lost Map” (《走失的地图》), and going with it a collection of visual artwork from Chinese painters of various styles, “A Form of Beginning” (《一种开端》), and held a public exhibition locally. A year ago this wasn’t a problem, but all of a sudden it was an “illegal business operation” punishable by the law.

It merely illustrates, as countless cases do every day, how law can be gratuitously utilized for political persecution or personal vendettas in China.

Langzi at the exhibition

Langzi speaking at the exhibition.  Photo: http://www.gznf.net/article-4117-1.html

On August 29 Langzi’s friend Peng Heping (彭和平), who had helped him print the catalog for the 2016 exhibition, was also criminally detained. It appears as though the authorities are doing their utmost to find a crime for the poet they have determined to punish.

On September 17, Langzi will have been detained for 30 days. According to Chinese law, the authorities must decide whether they’re formally arresting him or releasing him.

Liu Xiaobo’s thoughts have their roots in his training in literature and poetry. While he was better known for his commentary and politics, he was also a poet. He published an anthology in Hong Kong together with Liu Xia in 2000. In the 1980s he was closely associated with the rebellious poetry experiments that began in his days as a literature student at Jilin University.

In 2010, in “I Have No Enemies: My Final Statement,” Liu Xiaobo wrote: “I hope that I will be the last victim of China’s endless literary inquisitions and that from now on no one will be incriminated because of speech.” It now appears that in China, the threshold for speech crimes is being constantly lowered, and the charges leveled in an increasingly arbitrary manner.

This much is for certain: in a calendar that is being filled with an ever growing list of “politically sensitive dates,” July 13 will be added, and in China’s practiced criminal code, there will be the “crime for commemorating Liu Xiaobo.”

A friend of Langzi’s worried on Twitter:  “If I don’t finish my tea in the morning, I don’t feel at ease the entire day; in the evening, if I don’t finish my wine, I feel that life is unbearable. Langzi has the same habits, and I can’t begin imagining how he will get by in a prison cell.”

 

 


我們從來不怕道路黑暗漫長

浪 子

我們從來不怕道路黑暗漫長
微笑著出發,哪怕兩手空空
一去不返。在未知的城市
我們像人群一樣孤立,散播
走失的消息,森林被砍伐
荒原被耕種,熾熱的心靈
一再被冰封。冒著無端的青春
或毀滅的危險,我們擁有
另外的一些,卻彷如負傷的大雁
從不知往何處飛翔
那些輪回所映照的,自由的歌聲
成為可能的歸途,在黑暗中升騰
徜徉,發出含糊的夢囈:我們
從來不怕道路黑暗漫長

 

We Are Never Afraid of the Road Being Dark and Endlessly Long

by Langzi

We are never afraid of the road being dark and endlessly long
To set off smiling, even if empty-handed
Once gone, never returns. In the unknown city
We are as alone as the crowds, spreading
The leaked information, forests are chopped down
Wasteland is cultivated, the fiery heart and soul
Is once again sealed in ice. Braving with the wild youth
Or against the risk of being ruined, we possess
Something otherwise, but like a wounded wild goose
Who never knows where to fly and soar
What those incarnations reflect is, the song of freedom
Turning into a possible homebound journey, which in the darkness rises
And roams, letting out obscure somniloquism: We
Are never afraid of the road being dark and endlessly long

 

Translated by Chris Z.

 

無 題

孟浪

直播一個民族的死亡
直播一個國家的死亡
哈利路亞,只有他一個人在復活中。

誰直接掐斷了他的復活
這個民族沒有凶手
這個國家沒有血跡。

現場是做了手腳的
那些醫生的手腳,充滿了仁慈
充滿了這個民族、這個國家。

能瘦一點嗎?能再瘦一點嗎?
就像他,一個人,他最後的消瘦
一副骨架也撐起整座人類博物館。

直播一個民族的死亡
直播一個國家的死亡
哈利路亞,只有他一個人在復活中。

2017年7月11日凌晨0時58分

 

Untitled

by Meng Lang

Broadcast the death of a nation
Broadcast the death of a country
Hallelujah, only he is coming back to life.

Who stopped his resurrection
This nation has no murderer
This country has no bloodstain.

They did a sleight of hand at the scene,
Those doctors, a sleight of hand, benevolent
and full of this nation, this country.

Can you lose some weight? A little more?
Like him, alone, thinned down to bones
still buttressing the museum of mankind.

Broadcast the death of a nation
Broadcast the death of a country
Hallelujah, only he is coming back to life.

 

Translated by Anne Henochowicz

 

 

 

 

‘Riding on a Dream, We Push Forward’: A Statement on the Fourth Anniversary of the China Human Rights Lawyers Group

The China Human Rights Lawyers Group, September 13, 2017

 

CHRLG_以梦为马

 

Today, September 13, 2017, marks the fourth anniversary of the founding of the China Human Rights Lawyers Group.

Even though it is the obligation of government to respect and safeguard human rights based on international treaties and the Constitution, it is also the natural and professional duty of lawyers. Four years ago today, the China Human Rights Lawyers Group was founded to provide an open platform for professional cooperation.

Over the past four years, we have set foot across the country and worked tirelessly against constant obstacles to protect freedom of expression, freedom of belief and other basic civil and political rights. Among us, some have lost their freedom and even their lives.

Since the 709 Crackdown on human rights lawyers in 2015, the authorities have among other things unscrupulously employed TV confessions and imposed officially-designated defense lawyers against the wishes of family members. We embraced those who had come back after unspeakable ordeals, and we remain deeply worried about lawyer Wang Quanzhang, Wu Gan, lawyer Jiang Tianyong, and Li Yanjun, who are still in custody.

We pay close attention to judicial reforms, but the gratuitous use of Residential Surveillance at a Designated Location has led to countless cases of arbitrary detention and enforced disappearances, during which horrific torture and other forms of inhumane treatment have occurred. The reality is that Chinese law does not apply to certain enforcers, and the so-called judicial reforms are little more than a joke.

We are concerned with the promulgation of various laws. Over the past two years China has passed or amended the Cybersecurity Law, Anti-terrorism Law, National Security Law, National Intelligence Law, the Management of Foreign NGO Law, Charity Law, Regulations on Religious Affairs, and other laws and regulations. These laws are brutal and coarse in terms of their legislative purpose, procedure, and techniques; they do nothing more than provide legal cover for the ugly policies of the day. In implementing them, law enforcement authorities trample over human rights at will in the name of “anti-terrorism” and “public security,” and the tendency to do this is now spreading.

We are concerned that lawyers retain the right to do their jobs. This right is being undermined by government agencies in charge of the judiciary, who are manipulating lawyer associations — which by definition should be independent, professional organizations — to retaliate against and remove human rights lawyers at the forefront of defending human rights.

In today’s China, human rights lawyers are esteemed by many but also scrutinized by some, and it requires courage and a sense of responsibility for us to persevere. We might be limited in our strength, but we must do what we can to stop this long-suffering country from sliding ever deeper and further into a dictatorial and totalitarian quagmire.

The fall brings cold air and perilous waves. We hope that, as lawyers who take defending human rights as a personal duty, we have answered the call of our time; we hope that the country will prosper and the people will enjoy peace and happiness. Moreover, we hope that the flowers of human rights will flourish across China.

 

The China Human Rights Lawyers Group

September 13, 2017

 

 

The China Human Rights Lawyers Group was founded on September 13, 2013. It is an open platform for cooperation. Since its founding, members of the group have worked together to protect human rights and promote the rule of law in China through issuing joint statements and representing human rights cases. Any Chinese lawyer who shares our human rights principles and is willing to defend the basic rights of citizens is welcome to join. We look forward to working with you.

Chang Boyang (常伯阳) 18837183338
Liu Shihui (刘士辉) 18516638964
Lin Qilei (蔺其磊) 18639228639
Tang Jitian (唐吉田) 13161302848
Yu Wensheng (余文生) 13910033651

 

Translated from Chinese by China Change.

 

 

 

 

 

Tulip for Wang Quanzhang

Safeguard Defenders, August 28, 2017

 

Tulip4Wang en big

Poster by @badiucao

 

The Human Rights Tulip is an award by the Dutch government for courageous human rights defenders.

Wang Quanzhang (CHINA) is a lawyer, father and husband whose work to defend and protect persecuted religious groups, especially Christians and Falun Gong practitioners, has made him a target himself. He is also a defender who understands that broader change in China must come from developing a wider movement of rights defenders.

Since 2008, Wang has worked to develop institutions and mechanisms to train, teach, and offer support to the greater rights defense community, from other rights defense lawyers, “barefoot” lawyers working locally, or victims themselves. Wang is the co-founder of an NGO that established training programs, training many hundreds of lawyers and rights defenders around China. Wang has likewise led the development of several innovative guides and training manuals to assist the rights defense movement to achieve greater success in their work.

By the time Wang was kidnapped by Chinese police on August 5, 2015, he was one of the few remaining lawyers in the whole of China who continued to provide legal aid to those most in need and has continued his work despite threats, beatings and attacks. No one has heard, seen or spoken with Wang for over 700 days. Reliable sources have claimed that he has been subjected to electro-shock torture, amongst other forms of torture. Wang has refused to admit guilt or incriminate others. Wang’s defiance and refusal to disavow his beliefs, friends and other lawyers, has made him a target in the eyes of the Chinese communist party and their “war on lawyers.”

Wang needs your support and your vote. Public voting is open between August 28 and September 6. Go to:

https://www.humanrightstulip.nl/candidates-and-voting/wang-quanzhang and follow the steps.

The winner will be selected from the top 3 candidates by the Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Twitter logoTwitter hashtag #Tulip4Wang

 

 


投709律师王全璋一票

 

Wang Quanzhang vote

 

人权捍卫者郁金香奖是荷兰政府为具有超人勇气的人权捍卫者设立的奖项。

王全璋(中国)是一位致力于为被迫害的信仰群体做辩护和维权的律师,同时也是一位父亲和丈夫。特别是为基督徒和法轮功练习者的代理,使他自身成为了被打击目标。同时他也是一位深知在中国要有广泛的改变必须要发展更广阔的维权运动的人权人士。

自2008年以来,王全璋就开始致力于发展为更大的维权社区提供培训、教学、支持的机构和机制,受益人的范围包括其他的人权律师、在本地工作的“赤脚”律师、以及那些受害者们。王全璋也是一位开展法律培训项目的NGO联合创始人,在中国各地培训了几百名律师和人权捍卫者。而且王还主导开创了多本创新性的指南和培训手册以帮助促使在维权活动中达到更大的成功率。

在2015年8月5日王全璋被带走之前的日子,随着越来越多的人权律师渐渐暂停代理敏感案件,王全璋是少数的虽然面临着威胁、殴打或打击,却仍然继续为有需要的群体提供法律援助的律师之一。自从被官方带走后,王全璋与外界失联已经超过700天,没有任何人得以与王通话或见面。据可靠的消息来源指称王在被关押期间遭受电击的酷刑,王坚持着拒绝认罪或归罪他人。王就否认自己的信念、归罪朋友和其他律师的抵抗和拒绝,让他成为了中国共产党眼中以及“对律师之战”的目标。

王全璋需要你的帮助和投票。公开投票会在8月28日至9月6日之间开放。请到下列网址,按照上图显示的中文指示投票:

https://www.humanrightstulip.nl/candidates-and-voting/wang-quanzhang 

获奖人会由外交部长从三位最高票候选人中选出。

Twitter logo推特标签 #Tulip4Wang

 

safeguard defenders

info@safeguarddefenders.org

 

 

 

 

 

Why Is Wu Gan ‘The Butcher’ So Important?

Mo Zhixu, August 16, 2017

The Chinese original was first published in December, 2015.

 

Wu Gan_黑透了

 

 

The importance of Wu Gan “the Super Vulgar Butcher” has been widely recognized for some time, and the most direct testament to his importance comes from none other than the party-state itself.  

On May 18, 2015, Wu Gan left for Nanchang, the capital of Jiangxi, to support lawyers in the Leping wrongful conviction case.* That evening, he joined the lawyers’ sit-in at the gate to the Jiangxi High Court, demanding the lawyers’ right to access the case files. On May 19, in a performance typical of Wu Gan, he set two roll-up signs in front of the court calling out court president Zhang Zhonghou (张忠厚). Soon after, Nanchang police picked up Wu Gan, placing him under administrative detention for ten days.

On May 25, Xinhua published the story “Netizen ‘Super Vulgar Butcher’ Wu Gan Put Under Administrative Detention by Nanchang Police.” Official websites across the board republished the article soon after. The next day, CCTV’s “Live News” (新闻直播间) aired a five-and-a-half-minute segment on “The Truth Behind the Detention of Netizen ‘Super Vulgar Butcher’ Wu Gan.” This distorted report on the events at the Jiangxi High Court augured in the campaign to defame Wu Gan.

On May 27, Wu Gan was put under criminal detention and charged with slander and “picking quarrels and provoking trouble.” On May 28, Xinhua published “Uncovering the Real ‘Super Vulgar Butcher’—Wu Gan Criminally Detained on Suspicion of Picking Quarrels and Provoking Trouble, Slander.” This was printed on page 11 of the People’s Daily—in the politics section. The same day, CCTV’s “Morning News” (朝闻天) and “Live News” devoted over 5 minutes and 12 minutes respectively to the details of Wu Gan’s detention, while the China Police Daily led with Wu Gan’s story on page 1. These articles and videos were circulated all over the internet. For a time, Wu Gan the Butcher took over computer screens. Some people joked that only a few people had received this much attention since the Chinese Communist Party took power in 1949.

People can’t help but ask, what’s so important about Wu Gan the Butcher?

Wu Gan is from Fuqing, Fujian Province. He formerly served in the border security force at the Xiamen airport. For family reasons, he settled in Yangshuo, Guangxi Province. He’s an avid internet user, posting mainly on the KDnet forums. “Super Vulgar Butcher” is his KDnet screen name.

When the Deng Yujiao (邓玉娇) case shook the nation in May 2009, Wu Gan went on his own to the scene in Badong, Hubei Province. He managed to visit Deng in a mental institution where she was being held for stabbing to death an official who tried to sexually assault her at a public bath where she was a waitress. Working with lawyers, Wu Gan launched an online support campaign that was crucial to Deng’s release and the dropping of her murder charge.

At the same time, Wu Gan raised funds online for his trip to Badong. He was challenged on this, but also gained a great deal of support. As he rose to prominence in the rights defense community, fellow activists copied and improved upon his method of crowdfunding. It increasingly became common practice among human rights defenders and resisters in mainland China.

On March 19, 2010, as netizens around the country “surrounded and watched” (围观, a way of demonstration) the trial of the three netizens from Fujian, the authorities abruptly changed the date, followed by a few clashes near the court. The date of the trial was then officially set for April 16, 2010. About a week prior, Wu Gan set up a tent outside the gates of the Fuzhou No. 1 Detention Center and reported from the scene, stoking the fire of online excitement.

On April 16, more than 100 netizens from all over China managed to demonstrate at the Fuzhou Mawei Court. The success of the 416 demonstration in support of the three netizens tried for internet expressions marked a new high point for crowdfunding, online-offline activism, cross-regional networking, and frontal resistance. It was a breakthrough in both the scale and substance of resistance in mainland China, reaching a level that has not yet been surpassed.

The inspiration for and implementation of crowdfunding for the 416 demonstration came directly from Wu Gan. He also played a key role in the campaign from beginning to end.

On October 8, 2010, Wu Gan, Xu Zhiyong (许志永), Wang Lihong (王荔蕻), and Zhao Changqing (赵常青) held up signs at the east gate of the Temple of Earth in Beijing to congratulate Liu Xiaobo on winning the Nobel Peace Prize. Soon after, everyone except for Xu Zhiyong were punished with eight days of administrative detention. Before the Nobel award ceremony, the Fujian police took Wu Gan back. His phone was cut off, and he went missing for over a month.

In October 2011, 30 citizens including Liu Ping (刘萍, a female activist in Jiangxi, now serving a 6 year sentence) decided to stay outside Dongshigu to support Chen Guangcheng. Wu Gan launched a crowdfunding campaign to support their effort, and by then this model of crowdfunding — online-offline, cross-province, frontal resistance — had matured, and it has been imitated by more and more human rights defenders.

Rights defense actions during the past few years — such as the observation of the unusual death of Xue Mingkai’s (薛明凯) father in Qufu, Shandong; of the black jail in Jiansanjiang; and of the congregation outside the Zhengzhou No. 3 Detention Center — all follow the pattern cut by the April 16 demonstration. Even those actions in which Wu Gan had no direct involvement show his influence.

When Yueqing village chief Qian Yunhui (钱云会) was crushed to death under a truck on December 25, 2011, outrage exploded online. Once again, Wu Gan went to the scene, where he managed to obtain relevant video footage. Soon after, Wu Gan experimented to transform himself from the role of the first responder to that of behind-the-scenes operator focusing on gathering resources for the frontline and coordinating public opinion. At the same time, supervision of the crowdfunding account was transferred to Guo Yushan’s (郭玉闪) Transition Institute.

From 2011, Wu Gan introduced his rights defense experiences in a batch of Weibo posts he called “Guide to Butchering Pigs” (《杀猪宝典》). According to the Guide,  the rights defense movement cannot count on an enlightened ruler for its success, nor on positive forces inside the system. Instead, the movement must creatively deploy any and all means by which to plant psychological deterrents against the relevant officials, thereby achieving resolution to the issue at hand. Intrinsic to this view is the pursuit of a beneficial outcome for the party concerned. It was met with praise as the activists took things into their own hands, not waiting for a just official to arrive on the scene to solve their problems.

After 2012, Wu Gan devoted his energy more to the role of a fundraiser and public opinion coordinator.  He raised money for certain rights defenders, victims of rights violations, and political prisoners, including Xiao Yong (肖勇) and Zhao Fengsheng (赵枫生) from Hunan, Fan Mugen (范木根) of Jiangsu, Liu Jiacai (刘家财) of Hubei, and Ren Ziyuan (任自元) of Shandong. Wu Gan kept a low profile, doing good without seeking recognition. A great deal of similar work of his remains unknown.

Starting in 2012, a band of lawyers known as “diehard lawyers” (死磕派) emerged, fighting the judicial system over procedural violations to advance the rule of law. This method resonates with the direct resistance in the Fujian Three Netizen case. Wu Gan started to interact, even cooperate, with the human rights lawyers. He became involved in cases such as the forced demolition in Huaihua, Hunan Province, and the case of wrongful conviction in Leping, Jiangxi. In November 2014, Wu Gan was hired as staff at the Beijing Fengrui Law Firm.

Diehard lawyering emerged from the Weibo era as a form of rights defense. Wu Gan’s transformation signified the infusion of his model of resistance into legal rights defense and diehard lawyering, strengthening the movement’s ability to mobilize, propagate, and sustain itself.

In May 2015, the Qing’an case erupted. At noon on May 2, a peasant named Xu Chunhe (徐纯合) was shot dead by a police officer in the waiting room of a Qing’an County train station in Heilongjiang Province. The incident drew the attention and anger of netizens all over China. Wu Gan immediately started to investigate the truth of the case. On May 7, Wu Gan posted a 10,000 yuan (about $1,500) reward for citizens to collect videos of Xu Chunhe at the train station from eyewitnesses. When the videos were made public, they circulated widely on WeChat, Weibo, online forums, and in overseas media. One after another, rights defense lawyers and citizens from all over the country arrived in Qing’an to offer legal services and take action. Wu Gan’s actions made it harder for the government to manipulate the truth, giving reasons to the authorities to settle accounts with him later.

As you can see, Wu Gan was no superhuman with unusual abilities. His importance, first of all, lay in his place at the convergence of three burgeoning models of resistance: diehard lawyering, citizen and petitioners “surround-and-watch” strategies, online mobilization of public opinion, and online crowdfunding.

Secondly, Wu Gan’s years of activism and exposure turned him into a symbol of popular resistance. This is why, as soon as Wu Gan was detained and the propaganda machine’s smear campaign against him ran in full gear, insightful observers believed that the detention of Wu Gan and the ensuing top-level smear campaign by the state’s propaganda machine was a prelude to a larger attack on the diehard lawyers, human rights activists, and citizen activists. The strike against Wu Gan, they believed, was quite likely just the beginning of something big.

When Wu Gan was criminally detained, I wrote that “The all-out treatment of The Butcher (Wu Gan) by the People’s Daily, Xinhua, and CCTV, a rare occurrence since 1949, is not targeted at Wu Gan himself, but rather is the start of an all-encompassing suppression of the entire model of dieharders (lawyers) + activists (citizens, petitioners) + public opinion mobilizers (online). Their next targets are human rights lawyers and the community of activists. With such a forceful start, the attack to follow could be worse than anyone can imagine.”

And so it went. One and a half months after The Butcher was formally arrested, on July 9, 2015, the all-out attack on human rights lawyers and their activist associates began. Twelve lawyers and similar number of activists were criminally detained and then placed under residential surveillance at a designated place — China’s term for secret detention. Over 250 lawyers were detained, summoned, and subpoenaed. This attack was not just sudden, but irrational and arbitrary. Five months on [this article was written in December 2015 — Editors], no 709 detainees have been allowed to access their defense lawyers. Even more fascinating, the authorities portrayed the Fengrui Law Firm as a criminal gang in order to hide the political objective behind the attack. But in reality, practically everyone can see what this attack is all about!

Nearly every lawyer and activist caught in the 709 crackdown had either worked closely with Wu Gan or was a good friend of his. Seven of the detained lawyers and legal staff worked at Fengrui: Zhou Shifeng (周世锋), Wang Yu (王宇), Bao Longjun (包龙军), Wang Quanzhang (王全璋), Liu Sixin (刘四新), Xie Yuandong (谢远东), and Huang Liqun (黄立群). Others had worked with Wu Gan on the Huaihua forced demolition case: Li Heping (李和平), Xie Yang (谢阳), and Sui Muqing (隋牧青). The citizen activists Monk Wang Yun (Lin Bin 望云和尚,or 林斌), Hu Shigen (胡石根), and Zhao Wei (赵威) all had strong personal relationships with Wu Gan. For this reason, according to his lawyer, Yan Wenxin (燕文薪), Wu Gan’s case has since been merged with the 709 cases, he could no longer visit Wu Gan, and it’s possible that Wu Gan has been moved from Fujian to Tianjin [this turned out to be the case — Editors].

In the few years since May 2009, Wu Gan has transformed from an ordinary netizen to a legal worker and human rights activist. It is no exaggeration to call Wu Gan China’s most prominent activist, and his model of crowdfunding, online-offline activity, cross-regional networking, and direct resistance, combined with new elements like the diehard lawyers, has already reached a new height, and has become the standard for political activism. His “Guide to Slaughtered Pigs” publicized the concept of improving one’s well-being through opposition and resistance. It has spread widely and continued to gain recognition.

It is precisely for these reasons that Wu Gan was targeted by the authorities. To thwart the further influence of his methodology, they did not stint in using their propaganda to defame him. Months have passed without any news from Wu Gan and the many lawyers and activists detained on July 9 and the following days. Their misfortune confirms the righteousness of their cause, and the system’s increasingly arbitrary strategy against them puts into relief the value and importance of people like Wu Gan.

Looking to the future, China is entering an ice age for political activism under a form of money-infused totalitarianism. The government may ruthlessly stifle the resistance model of diehard lawyering + cross-regional networking + online mobilization. Still, the spirit of resistance Wu Gan and others have shown is destined to be passed down, and to become the fundamental strength in China’s transition to a democracy.

 

* The Leping case took place in Leping of Jiangxi Province (江西乐平) in 2000, with an incident of kidnapping, rape, and a dismembered body. Two years later police arrested four men in Zhongdian village of Leping county: Huang Zhiqiang (黄志强), Fang Chunping (方春平), Cheng Fagen (程发根), and Cheng Li (程立). Under torture, the four of them “confessed” to the crime; by 2015 they had been in prison for over 13 years and had been given death sentences twice. In 2011 local public security officers arrested a man who confessed to murdering and dismembering the victim in 2000. Lawyers representing the four victims then demanded that the authorities re-investigate the case, but the Jiangxi High people’s Court refused the lawyers’ access to the case files. In response, the lawyers protested outside the court for days. Eventually the Jiangxi High Court did retry the Leping case and on December 22, 2016, issued new verdicts: the four defendants were found not guilty and immediately released.

 

Mo Zhixu (莫之许), pen name of Zhao Hui (赵晖), is a Chinese dissident intellectual and a frequent contributor of Chinese-language publications known for his incisive views of Chinese politics and opposition. He is the co-author of “China at the Tipping Point? Authoritarianism and Contestation” in the January, 2013, issue of Journal of Democracy. He currently lives in Guangzhou.

 

 


Related:

The Twelve ‘Crimes’ of Wu Gan the Butcher, China Change, August 13, 2017.

My Pretrial Statement, Wu Gan, August 9, 2017.

Wu Gan the Butcher, a profile by Yaqiu Wang, July, 2015.

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

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.

Paying Homage to Liu Xiaobo from Behind Bars, Wu Gan, July 31, 2017.

 

 

Translated from Chinese by China Change 《莫之许:屠夫为什么如此重要?》

 

 

 

Wu Gan’s Pretrial Statement

Wu Gan, August 9, 2017

 

Wu Gan (吴淦), arguably the most celebrated activist in recent years in China’s struggle for justice and human rights, and a seminal user of online mobilization and peaceful direct action, was the first detainee of what has come to be known as the 709 Crackdown. Wu Gan became known for his role in mobilizing public support in the Deng Yujiao case (邓玉娇案) in 2009, and in the years following was involved in countless cases, both large and small. He became well known for his audacity and creativity. He also wrote three guides for potential activists and petitioners: Guide to Butchering Pigs (《杀猪宝典》) , Guide to Drinking Tea (《喝茶宝典》) and Guide to Petitioners Fighting Against Forced Demolition of Homes (《访民杀猪宝典》). Wu Gan was detained on May 19, 2015, as he was demonstrating outside Jiangxi Superior Court, which had recently denied lawyers their right to access the case files of four wrongfully sentenced death row inmates. Like the rest of the 709 detainees, he was placed under “residential surveillance at a designated place,” China’s euphemism for secret detention, and tortured. On December 23, 2016, Wu Gan was indicted. The prosecutors listed 12 crimes (which to everyone else read like a list of heroic deeds), and concluded that “defendant Wu Gan organized, plotted, and implemented the crime of subverting state power and overturning the socialist system.” One of the two 709 detainees still remaining in custody for refusing to compromise (the other being lawyer Wang Quanzhang), Wu Gan will tried on Monday, August 14, at Tianjin Second Intermediate Court. Below is a statement Wu Gan issued recently, published by his lawyers. The court says the trial will be held in secret because some elements of the trial involve “state secrets.”  — The Editors

 

Wu Gan_开庭前声明

 

The rights of free speech, press, religious belief, demonstration, assembly, supervising the government and officials, as well as expressing discontent are all natural rights and civil rights endowed and guaranteed by the constitution (presuming the rights are not in name only). They are also universal values recognized and adhered to by countries around the world. If a citizen is convicted of a crime for exercising these rights, it’s a disgrace to our country and will be ridiculed and spurned by the people of the world. Forcing someone to defend himself against a charge of guilt for exercising these rights is an insult.

In mainland China, if your ideology and beliefs are at odds with those favored by the authorities, you’re apt to be framed with a criminal charge. Since the Communist Party came to power in 1949, millions of people have been persecuted. During Mao’s Cultural Revolution and all other political movements, intellectuals, the 1989 generation, democracy party members, and Falun Gong practitioners have all been retaliated against for defending their legitimate rights. Which of them is a criminal? For decades political changes in China have been in form and not content, while the essence of the authoritarian system has remained unchanged.

Their accusations against me are now public knowledge. I’ve done nothing more than make some speeches, write three books, give moral support and assistance to innocent victims of injustice, expose the misconduct and criminal actions of the government and officials, and express my ideas through performance art. All this is simply exercising my legitimate rights as a citizen. These civil rights should be defended by all of us.

I will be convicted not because I am really guilty, but because of my refusal to accept a state-designated lawyer, plead guilty, and make a televised confession for their propaganda purposes, and my resolution to reveal their brutal torture of me and the procuratorates’ misconduct. The special investigative team told me that my case would be decided by leadership on higher level, and that my trial is just a ritual carried out by the procuratorate and court. Although I know that this trial is only a farce to declare me guilty, I will not speak in my defense. An innocent person does not need to defend himself.

It doesn’t make sense to have a trial before many illegal acts against me are investigated and resolved. These misdeeds include: illegal police procedures, their brutal torture of me, occupation of my property, and forcing me to accept media interviews and give up the right to engage my own lawyer.

I know I will receive a heavy sentence, but I will never regret what I have done. I do feel guilty for involving my family in my case, and for having done so little for them. The sympathy and support of the public, and the dedication of my lawyers is my best “verdict.” Black and white, right and wrong will not be reversed forever, and justice will eventually prevail. The wheel of history rolls forward and can’t be stopped by anyone. Those who try to block the progress of human civilization will in the end find their place in history’s Hall of Shame.

Under the brutal rule of  the “Great, Glorious, and Correct” Communist Party of China, it would be embarrassing if I wasn’t framed as a “criminal.” Life is short, so we’d better “commit our crimes” while we’ve still got the chance. My crime of subverting the Communist regime is a great honor for me. In fighting for democracy and freedom and in defense of civil rights, a guilty verdict issued by a dictatorial regime is a golden glittering trophy awarded to warriors for liberty and democracy.

I refuse to speak in defense of myself, but I take this opportunity to thank you for the award! Thank you!

 

Statement by Wu Gan

2017

 


Related:

The Twelve ‘Crimes’ of Wu Gan the Butcher, August 13, 2017.

Wu Gan the Butcher, a profile by Yaqiu Wang, July, 2015.

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

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.

Paying Homage to Liu Xiaobo from Behind Bars, Wu Gan, July 31, 2017.

 

Translated from Chinese by China Change.

 

 

 

From Brittany, in Memory of Liu Xiaobo’s Spirit and Voice of Conscience

Hermann Aubié, August 9, 2017

 

Liu Xiaobo_寒涛_France

Remembering Liu Xiaobo, Brittany, France, 19 July 2017. Photo by Hermann Aubié.

 

Dear Xiaobo,

About three weeks ago, shortly after the world learned about your terminal liver cancer diagnosis of late May 2017, you died aged 61 in the Northeast region of China where you were born. As the poet Tang Danhong wrote, you departed as “an innocent prisoner into the eternal light” (无罪的囚徒,融入永恒的光芒). What a cruel tragedy to live out your last days in a hospital bed under lock and key after fighting most of your life for freedom and human rights!

Although I’ve never had the chance to meet you in person, I feel like I’ve lost someone very close to me, as if your death has torn away a part of myself. While you were behind bars in Jinzhou prison, I was trying my best to better understand what your human rights struggle was all about and to imagine your thoughts on what happened in China and around the world during the last eight years you spent in prison. More recently, as I was anticipating your release in June 2020, aged 64, I even indulged in imagining your surprise at seeing a young Frenchman coming from nowhere brandishing a newly written book about your struggle for freedom of expression and human rights. There was so much I wanted to talk about together, and I regret that we will no longer have the chance.

Words can hardly express the emotion and revulsion I feel at the injustice and cruelty of the Chinese government. I remain lucky and grateful to have discovered your thoughts and actions through your writings and your friends – it may never be possible to come to terms with your departure and to find closure, but I take comfort in imagining how many people are mourning your loss around the world and taking over the causes and values that you defended by engaging in new and ongoing struggles.

Liu Xiaobo_寒涛_France 2

Lighting a candle for Liu Xiaobo, Brittany, France, 19 July 2017. Photo by Hermann Aubié.

As a student who fell in love with China in the early 2000s and devoured hundreds of books and articles on China to quench my curiosity and satiate the hunger of my ignorance, reading your critical analyses of Chinese politics and society was vastly enlightening. Your works compelled me to question my assumptions and unlearn many of the false narratives that I took for granted about Chinese culture and history. It was thanks to you that I also enjoyed learning the Chinese language – unlike the heavy, wooden register of Chinese officialdom, the language you used felt natural and your arguments more intuitive, especially when it came to our shared human condition and aspiration for universal values.

Before becoming China’s most prominent political prisoner, you first emerged in the mid-1980s as a literary critic and a lecturer in humanities whose growing reputation gave you the opportunity to travel for several months as a visiting scholar to Northern Europe, Hong Kong and the USA.

Then, as the democracy movement of spring 1989 started to unfold while you were in New York City, you refused to watch from a comfortable distance and left Columbia University for Beijing to participate directly in the protests on Tiananmen Square by advising students and raising funds. Over several weeks, you gradually transformed from an observer to one of the leaders of the protests who drafted speeches calling for institutional reforms and rejection of violence. One of your most important contributions was to organize the June 2nd hunger strike with your friends Zhou Duo, Gao Xin, and Hou Dejian, who would later together with you become known as the “Four Gentlemen” (四君子) for successfully negotiating with the leaders of the martial law troops a peaceful withdrawal of thousands of students from Tiananmen Square on the eve of the June 4th massacre (六四大屠杀). Two days later, you got arrested by the authorities who labelled you a “black hand” (黑手) behind the “political turmoil” (政治风波) and detained you for nineteen months in Qincheng prison, China’s “Bastille” for elite prisoners. In the meantime, the state blacklisted your name and expelled you “outside the system” (体制外).

From then on, the party-state had made of you a “criminal” and the Western media a “dissident.” By then, you felt forced to let your first family move abroad so they can start a new life without fear of being persecuted through “relational repression” (关系镇压). After your release from prison, during which you signed a “repentance document” that you will never forgive yourself for, you painfully reflected on the tragic ending of the 1989 protests and felt much guilt as a “survivor of the massacre.”

As a result, you chose to embark on a path of redemption by committing to a long struggle for human rights and constitutional government that would make you suffer and sacrifice your limited freedom for the freedom of others. Over time, sustained by your wife Liu Xia, the love of your life with whom you married in 1996 while in detention in a “Re-education through labour” (劳教) camp of Dalian, you proved to yourself and others that people can change for the better, and you gradually came to embody the promise of a better, kinder and more humane China.

While interviewing your friends, I heard touching stories about your integrity and generosity both as a person and as president of the Independent China PEN Centre, an NGO founded in 2001 to defend the freedom of expression of Chinese writers and journalists who are persecuted for their writings and to support the spouses of those who are imprisoned.

Then, as I got deeper into your writings, I came to understand more clearly your philosophy about how we ought to live and act in everyday life, of the importance of listening to our conscience and rejecting lies. In particular, you highlighted the urgency of unlearning the “enemy mentality” (敌人意识) that the Chinese regime relentlessly instils with its propaganda about “hostile forces” trying to “split China” or “spread chaos” – a false worldview meant to justify the regime’s oppression. In a post-Brexit, Trump era, your message also applies in an increasingly divided Western world blighted by violent racism and scapegoating.

In your 2003 essay titled “Using truth to undermine a system based on lies”, you looked back at your early life under Mao and acknowledged the difficulty of unlearning “Mao Speak” (毛语), especially its Manichean worldview:

I realize that my entire youth was spent in a cultural desert and that my early writings had all been nurtured in hatred, violence, and arrogance − or, alternatively, in lies, cynicism, and loutish sarcasm. These poisons of “Party culture” had permeated several generations of Chinese, and I was no exception. Even in the liberal tides of the 1980s, I had not been able to purge myself of them entirely. I knew at the time that Mao-style thinking and Cultural Revolution-style language had become ingrained in me, and my goal had been to transform myself from the bone marrow out. Hah! − Easier said than done. It may take me a lifetime to rid myself of the poison.

As you then explained in a 2005 essay titled “Gao Zhisheng’s lesson”, one way of getting rid of the poison is to “unlearn ‘dehumanization’ as a distinctive feature of Party culture” (摆脱党文的”非人”) through “introspective awareness” (自省意识) and “self-reflection” (自思), without which a “moral high ground type of arrogance” (“山小”的道德傲慢) could emerge anytime.

But today, looking back at the distressing circumstances of your death, how could our grief and anger not fill us with rage and make us hate that cold-blooded regime who treated you so heartlessly in your last days, and who even went as far as viciously manipulating the public discourse about your hospital treatment and funerals? Despite it all, though, I guess you would still want us to refuse to participate in the regime’s lies, hatred, violence and enmity that “poison hearts and minds” as a way to widen the space for freedom of expression and civil society. Under such conditions, as you persuasively argued, Chinese citizens could then minimize the risks of the regime’s unpredictable repression, and keep organizing solidarity initiatives such as the signature of open letters to call for the release of political prisoners.

When your old friend Bao Zunxin (1937-2007) passed away aged 70, you offered his wife to help organize his funerals despite the threats from the police. This was because, like you, he was seen by the regime as a “hostile element” (敌对分子) since he supported the pro-democracy protests of 1989. As the funeral ceremony got disrupted by police forces, you noted that because “the dead are the most revered” (死者大) in Chinese tradition, the police felt awkward about enforcing order, and you went on blaming the“stupidity”of the higher authorities whose“lack of confidence in their own legitimacy” (对它自身的合法性缺少自信) had yet again led them to order the police to take extreme measures. Before the police interrupted you, you honoured Bao Zunxin as an “enduring spirit of freedom” who paid a price for maintaining his dignity and with whom you shared a “common ideal and passion” by “throwing your selves into the people’s anti-authoritarian human rights struggle.” You both agreed that that the “cynical utilitarianism” of the CCP or what you also called its “pig philosophy,” only encourages political apathy and mindless consumerism that goes against the “mainstream of world civilization”. Finally, you wrote about Bao Zunxin’s work as an “unfinished enlightenment” that you would strive to take over and push forward.

After your arrest in December 2008, the regime’s police, prosecutors and judges (公检法) responded to your advocacy of peaceful dialogue and non-violent gradual political reform by putting you on trial in December 2009. They singled out a few of your writings and the signatures you collected for the moderate political manifesto titled Charter 08 to sentence you under the trumped-up charge of “inciting subversion of state power” to 11 years in prison. In response to the continuing hostility of the Chinese regime, you reaffirmed with calm and eloquence what you stood for 20 years earlier during the democracy protests at Tiananmen Square: “I have no enemy, no hatred” (没有敌人,也没有仇恨). And yet, the regime went on treating you like a top enemy of the state, transferring you from Beijing to Jinzhou Prison in Liaoning Province in order to keep you away from public attention. Adding insult to injury, they even launched a propaganda campaign vilifying you as the “West’s tool” who “will be abandoned by the Chinese people” for “crossing the line of freedom of speech into crime.” Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose…

Quite remarkably, in response to your prison sentence which was particularly severe by the standards of that time, many individuals — including many Charter 77 signatories — came together from around the world to nominate you for the 2010 Peace Nobel Prize in honour of your “long and nonviolent struggle for fundamental human rights.” When Liu Xia announced you the award, you cried with sadness and told her that “it should go to all the departed spirits of June Fourth.” As the Chinese regime would not let you attend the ceremony in Oslo, you were represented by an empty chair on the podium which became a symbol of an ongoing protest against your imprisonment that was widely circulated on the internet despite China’s censorship. In a dismal move, the regime chose to react to this expression of solidarity and empathy by ruthlessly detaining Liu Xia at your home, while also sentencing her brother, Liu Hui, to 11 years in prison on another trumped-up charge.

During the 8 years and a half that you spent behind steel gates, countless “human rights disasters” (人权灾难) took place across China and around the world. For example, in March 2014, the female human rights lawyer Cao Shunli died aged 53 after months of detention without receiving adequate medical care. And a year after, the Tibetan Buddhist social and environmental activist Tenzin Delek Rinpoche who was also sentenced to life imprisonment under a fabricated charge eventually died in prison aged 65 without even medical parole.

Tragically, like the female dissident Lin Zhao (1932-1968) who was executed under Mao, all these victims of the regime’s enemy mentality have joined these “departed spirits” (亡灵) who had left us all too soon on that night of June Fourth 1989. The spirit of the “children of June 4th” whom you eulogized every year with poems expressing the great sadness and pain you felt as a survivor, can only hope to find redemption through your struggle for historical justice and human rights.

As you can see today, Chinese human rights advocates and civil society are now facing particularly hard times. And yet, it does not mean that the ideals of human rights and constitutional government are losing traction within Chinese society. As you said, every little act of solidarity or resistance against lies and hatred is meaningful and the long-term implications of living in truth should not be underestimated. Although oppression is worsening under Xi Jinping, I still share your optimism and your dream of a “future free China that lies in civil society” (未来的自由中国在民间). Indeed, despite all the hostilities coming from China’s unelected leaders, many Chinese citizens and their supporters around the world are keeping up the good fight for justice and I’m sure your struggle for freedom of expression, human rights and social justice will remain an eternal source of inspiration for many to come.

My thoughts are now with Liu Xia, who was disappeared since July 15 and who must still be suffering from the “intangible prison of the heart” (无形的心狱). As your ashes spread across the ocean, the regime still won’t let your departed spirit rest in peace by allowing Liu Xia and her brother to live well by moving around freely. Now more than ever, the international community must shout their indignation against the Orwellian brutality of Xi Jinping’s government. It must show its full support until all China’s innocent prisoners of conscience and their families are freed to love and support each other without being driven into exile by fear and suffering.

This would be the most concrete way of ensuring that however cruel were your final years, your efforts to build China’s democratic future were not in vain.

Goodbye Xiaobo, I miss you!

 

Hermann Aubié 寒涛

 

 

Hermann Aubié is a lecturer in sociology and policy at Aston University; he completed his PhD at the Centre for East Asian Studies of the University of Turku (Finland) in 2016 with a dissertation titled “Liu Xiaobo’s Struggle for Human rights: A Contextual Analysis from a Historical Perspective” which is forthcoming as a book.

After doing his BA and MA at the University of Western Brittany in France and the University of Glasgow, he spent five years working in China as a teacher, researcher and consultant for the EU-China Civil Society Dialogue.

Overall, his research focus is on contemporary politics, human rights, and civil society transformations in China and East Asia, with particular attention on how citizens use the law and media to promote socio-political change, and to redress injustice for individuals/groups who are persecuted and discriminated against.

 

 


Related:

Liu Xiaobo: The Founder of China’s Political Opposition Movements, Wu Qiang, June 30, 2017.

The Path Forward in the Wake of Liu Xiaobo’s Passing, Yaxue Cao, July 16, 2017.

As Liu Xiaobo Dies in Isolation, It’s Time to Abandon ‘Quiet Diplomacy’, Chang Ping, July 18, 2017.

Liu Xiaobo: Walking the Path of Kang Youwei, Spilling His Blood Like Tan Sitong, Wang Dan, July 20, 2017.

Remembering Liu Xiaobo — And What the U. S. Can Do, Yang Jianli, July 22, 2017.