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The Might of an Ant: the Story of Lawyer Li Baiguang (2 of 2)

Yaxue Cao, March 21, 2018

Continued from The Might of an Ant: the Story of Lawyer Li Baiguang (1 of 2)

 

Li Baiguang 2005, 与刘晓波等自由知识分子、维权律师一起

Front row from left: Chen Yongmiao (陈永苗), Li Baiguang (李柏光), Fan Yafeng (范亚峰), Guo Feixiong (郭飞雄), Gao Zhisheng (高智晟); back fron from left: Teng Biao (滕彪), Pu Zhiqiang (浦志强), Wang Yi (王怡), Mo Shaoping (莫少平), Liu Xiaobo (刘晓波), Yu Meisun (俞梅荪), and Wang Guangze (王光泽). 2005.

 

Rights Movement Spread All Over the Country

By 2004, Zhao Yan and Li Baiguang were under constant threat. Fuzhou police told the village deputies that Zhao and Li were criminals, and demanded that the deputies expose the two. The Fujian municipal government also dispatched a special investigation team to the hometowns of Li and Zhao to look into their family backgrounds. A public security official in Fu’an said: “Don’t you worry that Zhao and Li are still on the lam — that’s because it’s not time for their date with the devil just yet. Just wait till that day comes: we’ll grab them, put them in pig traps, and toss them into the ocean to feed the sharks!”

On September 17, 2004, Zhao Yan was arrested by over 20 state security agents while at a Pizza Hut in Shanghai. At that point he had already left the China Reform magazine and was working as a research assistant in the Beijing office of The New York Times. He was accused of leaking state secrets, denied a lawyer for several months, and eventually sentenced to three years on charges of fraud.

On December 14, 2004, Li Baiguang and three lawyers, while on their way to Fu’an to handle a rights defense case that was likely a trap, were hemmed in by police vehicles and arrested. Li was accused of illegally providing legal services, because he did not possess a law license. On the evening of December 21, a dozen police officers from Fu’an broke into Li’s apartment in Beijing, pried open his cabinets, and confiscated his hard drives and documents related to dismissing officials.

Thanks to the efforts of his friend Yu Meisun and a host of liberal intellectuals and journalists, Li Baiguang was released on bail after 37 days in custody. December to January are the coldest months of the year in Fujian, and there was no heating. In a cell with dozens of people, Li Baiguang recalled later, “I wore a suit, and it was cold. As a form of punishment, they told the cell boss to make me bathe in freezing seawater every day. I lost a lot of hair, and lost so much weight that my cheekbones protruded. When I came out my nephew hardly recognized me.”

The removal of officials between 2003 and 2004 was one of the key campaigns that initiated the rights defense movement, and one of the largest-scale rights defense activities in China. Around the same time, rights defense initiatives took place. During the Sun Zhigang (孙志刚) Incident in March 2003, three Peking University law PhDs, Xu Zhiyong (许志永), Yu Jiang (俞江) and Teng Biao (腾彪) wrote a letter to the National People’s Congress, demanding that they conduct a constitutional review of the law “Administrative Measures for Assisting Vagrants and Beggars with No Means of Support in Cities” (《城市流浪乞讨人员收容遣送办法》). He Weifang (贺卫方), Xiao Han (萧瀚), He Haibo (何海波), and two other well-known legal scholars demanded that the NPC conduct an investigation into how the ‘administrative measures,’ commonly known as ‘custody and repatriation,’ were actually being implemented. Gao Zhisheng began defending Falun Gong practitioners in court, demanded that the government respect freedom of belief, and called for the torture against practitioners to cease. Numerous other lawyers and legal scholars also began taking up human rights defense cases, bringing them to public consciousness. Other notable cases of the period included the defence of Hebei private entrepreneur Sun Dawu (孙大午), who was accused of ‘illegal fundraising’; the case of injured investors in the Shanbei oil fields; the case of Christian Cai Zhuohua (蔡卓华) who was arrested for printing the Bible; the Southern Metropolis Daily editor and manager Cheng Yizhong (程益中) and Yu Huafeng (喻华峰) who were punished for reporting on the Sun Zhigang case and broke the news of SARS; the ‘Three Servants’ religious case that involved hundreds of believers; the libel case against the authors of the Survey of Chinese Peasants (《中国农民调查》), and other incidents.

In fall of 2003 Xu Zhiyong, Teng Biao, and Zhang Xingshui (张星水) founded the organization Sunshine Constitutionalism (阳光宪政) in Beijing, later changing its name to the Open Constitution Initiative (公盟). Gongmeng, as it’s often known per the Chinese title, became a hub — and incubator — for human rights lawyers and legal activists. They held a meeting nearly every week, and Li Baiguang was one of the regular participants.

In the winter of 2003 there was an upsurge in the participation of independent candidates in People’s Representative elections in Beijing, and a number of these candidates were successful.

Many independent NGOs focused on environmental protection, AIDS control and prevention, women’s rights, and disabled rights, had sprung up in Beijing and other cities. They used the law and advocacy to propagate rights awareness.

 

Li Baiguang, Taishi village

In Taishi village in Guangdong, Guo Feixiong assisted the villagers’ effort to village head for embezzlement of public fund.

 

Entering 2005, the dismissal of officials in Taishi Village (太石村), Guangdong Province, as well as the Linyi Family Planning Case in Shandong (临沂计生案), became public events involving lawyers, public intellectuals, and citizen activists from around the country.

At the end of 2005, Hong Kong’s Asia Weekly magazine highlighted 14 human rights lawyers and legal scholars, including Li Baiguang, as 2005 People of the Year.[1] It said that “these 14 rights defense lawyers aren’t afraid of power; they wield the constitution as a weapon, harness the power of the internet, and work to defend the rights of the 1.3 billion Chinese people granted in their own constitution, while pushing for the establishment of democracy and rule of law in China.” In the ensuing years, with the exception of one or two, these 14 lawyers and scholars would be arrested, tortured, disappeared, disbarred, or forced into exile. Still, the grassroots rights defense movement they helped to kick off would continue to expand, and gain new energy in the age of social media. We shall not elaborate on that here.

‘Turning into an Ant’

In late July 1999, after publishing Samuel Smiles’ “The Huguenots in France” (issued under the Chinese title “The Power of of Faith” 《信仰的力量》) , Li Baiguang went to a church in the Haidian district of Beijing, bought a copy of the Bible, and began to read it. In January 2005 after he was released from prison, he began attending the Ark Church in Beijing (北京方舟教会) to study the Bible and pray. The Ark Church was a meeting place for many dissidents, rights lawyers, Tiananmen massacre victims, and petitioners — and for this reason the house church suffered regular harassment by the police. On July 30, 2005, Li was baptized in a reservoir in Huairou (怀柔), Beijing. He loudly proclaimed his witness, telling of the several times in his life when he brushed shoulders with death. He spoke of the time that an inner voice told him to stop, as he was considering plunging to his death from a building at university. He told of the catastrophes he escaped in 1998, 2001, and then in 2004. He spoke of the cumulative impact that Samuel Smiles’ books had on him, and, finally, he expressed his gratitude to Jesus.

He began to tremble violently as he read, and only after the baptism was complete and he had sat down a while did it subside.

 

Li Baiguang, 2005, 受洗前宣读《爱的见证》

Li Baiguang read aloud his testimony before being baptised in July 2005.

 

For Li Baiguang, the freedom of the mind and soul and political freedom are simply two sides of the same coin. In 2000, while translating Smiles, Li wrote an essay titled “The Fountainhead of Modern Freedom is the Freedom of Individual Conscience” (《现代自由的源头是个体的良心自由》). He came to believe that only faith can shape and form conscience, and further, that the emergence of individual conscience is the origin and basis of freedom. This also makes it the source of the courage and motivation to fight for freedom and against despotism. He doesn’t believe that the widespread failure of Chinese to distinguish right and wrong, and the country’s moral decay, can be laid entirely at the feet of the Communist Party’s dictatorship.

In April 2006, in a session of “The Middle Forum” (《中道论坛》) with Fan Yafeng, Chen Yongmiao (陈永苗), and Qiu Feng (秋风), Li said he was tired of liberal intellectuals’ decades-long discussions of grand themes like constitutional governance, reform, and future China. He described his own turning point of involvement in actual, real life rights defense work. Of the eight years between 1997 and 2005, he said, he too spent the first five focused on all sorts of macro abstractions. “Recently I’ve had a realization: I’m willing to become an ant. I want to take the rights and freedoms in the books and, through case after case, bring them into the real world bit by bit. This is my personal stance. The path to this is legal procedure. In summer, the ant gathers food. Today, I’m also transporting food under the framework of rights defense, and in doing so accumulating experience and results for the arrival of the day of constitutional government.”

“According to the principles of political mechanics, it’s impossible to change minds overnight in such a large system. All you can do is loosen the screws one by one and turn the soil over clump by clump,” he said. Li held high hopes in the future of the nascent rights defense movement, and the gradual dismantling of autocracy from the margins. He thought that the rights defense movement would be crucial to China’s future establishment of a constitutional democracy.

This was the first time he proposed the ‘ant’ idea. In the years afterward, this is how he characterized his work and it became very familiar to his friends.

In May 2005, the Midland, Texas-based NGO China Aid, as well as the Institute on Chinese Law & Religion[2], invited seven Chinese rights lawyers and legal scholars to join a “China Freedom Summit.” Among those invited, Gao Zhisheng, Fan Yafeng, and Zhang Xingshui were blocked from leaving China; Li Baiguang, Wang Yi, Yu Jie, and Guo Feixiong were able to make it to the United States. Li Baiguang delivered a speech at the Hudson Institute titled “The Legal Dimensions of Religious Freedom: Reality and Prospects in China.” It proposed a systematic approach for defending religious freedom according to the law in China, and included the following actions:

  • Submit an application to the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress for constitutional review of laws, regulations and policies related to freedom of religious belief, and demand the annulment of unconstitutional laws that infringe upon religious freedom;
  • Apply for religious services for prisoners in detention centres, prisons, and re-education camps in China who believe in God, or have come to believe while in detention, and send the gospel of Jesus Christ to all of the above detention facilities;
  • Provide relief to Christians whose religious freedom has been infringed upon by agents of the state;
  • Provide restitution to Christians who have had their persons or their residences illegally searched by agents of the state;
  • Provide restitution to Christians who are being subjected to re-education through forced labor;
  • Provide restitution to Christians or Christian organizations who have been punished with large fines;
  • Provide restitution for those who have been harmed by the dereliction of duty of state organs.

On May 8, while at the Midland office of China Aid for one week of Bible study, the group learned that they would be granted a meeting with President Bush in the White House. On the morning of May 11, President Bush met with Yu Jie, Wang Yi, Li Baiguang, China Aid director Bob Fu, and Institute on Chinese Law & Religion director Deborah Fikes, in the Yellow Oval Room.

Li Baiguang, Bush meetingLi Baiguang presented President Bush with a gift — a copy of a proposal to make a documentary titled  “American Civilization.” It was exquisitely designed by the artist Meng Huang (孟煌). In 2003, Li and his intellectual friends in Beijing designed together two major documentary projects. One of them was a 30-episode series that would introduce the democratic experience in 30 countries. Another, “American Civilization,” would be a 100-episode documentary series that would provide Chinese people a comprehensive introduction to the establishment of America, including its political life, its judicial system, education system, and religious beliefs. “I want to make it a television special for the education of the public,” Li said. He established the Beijing Qimin Research Center (北京启民研究中心) to push the plans forward, but in the end the two ambitious projects were aborted.

The three Christians from China being received by President Bush was, at the time, a major news story. But for the ten years following, the meeting with the U.S. President was remembered more for a controversy that surrounded it: the so-called “rejecting Guo incident.” This is a reference to the fact that Guo Feixiong was excluded from the meeting, purportedly by Yu Jie and Wang Yi, who argued that the meeting was for Christians only and Guo should not attend because he was not a Christian. Later, Li Baiguang expressed his regret that this had taken place. He told rights defense lawyer Tang Jitian (唐吉田) that if it didn’t occur, along with the enormous acrimony around it, the different groups in Chinese civil society might have been more unified and stronger.

Also during this trip to the U.S., Li was invited by Bob Fu to be China Aid’s legal consultant. When Li returned to China, he said in a 2010 interview, apart from his regular rights defense work, he “traveled across the country to provide legal support to persecuted house churches.” Li partnered with China Aid in this fashion until his death.

During that same period, Li sat the bar, passed, and became a lawyer. In December 2007 he hung his shingle with the Common Trust Law Firm (共信律师事务所) in Weigongcun, near Peking University.

In June 2008, Li and six other Chinese dissidents and rights lawyers were awarded the National Endowment for Democracy’s Democracy Award.

Law Career

Li Baiguang was among the 303 initial signatories of Charter 08. But after that point he gradually retired from the media and public spotlight. “Although the substance of my rights defense work has not changed,” he said in the 2010 interview, “my methods are more low-key and moderate than before. I no longer write articles attacking and castigating the authorities; all I want to do now is actually see implemented the laws that they themselves wrote, and win for victims the rights and freedoms that they should enjoy.”

Li Baiguang, 阅卷

Reading case files with colleagues in Fuzhou, 2017.

Over the following years Li, as a lawyer, left his footprints in every Chinese province except Tibet, acting as defense counsel in several hundred cases of persecuted Christians. The cases he was involved in include: the Shanghai Wanbang Church in 2009 (上海万邦教会), petitioning for Uighur church leader Alimjan Yimiti (阿里木江) in 2009, the 2010 Guangzhou Liangren Church case (广州良人教会), the 2010 Shuozhou Church case in Shanxi (山西朔州), the 2012 Pingdingshan Church case in Henan  (河南平顶山) , the 2014 Nanle case (南乐), and the Cao Sanqiang (曹三强) case in 2017, among others.

As for the result of defending house churches, Li Baiguang summed it up in 2010 as follows: “If we look at the outcome of the administrative review of every rights case, the judgment has ruled against the church almost without exception. But later, I found a very strange phenomenon: after the conflict dies down, looking back a year later, we find that the local public security and religious bureaus no longer dare storm and raid these house churches, and congregants can meet freely. Using the law as a weapon to defend religious freedom works. Where we’ve fought cases, churches and religious activities in the area have since been little disrupted.”

Li Baiguang_Photo_手拿材料During the same period, Li also defended numerous dissidents, rights lawyers, activists, petitioners, and peasants entangled in compensation disputes. These include Guo Feixiong’s appeal in 2009, the Zhu Yufu (朱虞夫) case in 2011, the lawsuit filed against the government in 2013 by Wang Xiuying (王秀英) for being sent to re-education through forced labor during the Olympic Games, the defense of lawyers Zhang Kai (张凯) and Liu Peng (刘鹏) in 2015, as well as the defense of 709 lawyer Xie Yanyi (谢燕益) in 2015, the mass arrest in Wuxi on April 16, 2016, the commemoration of the June 4 massacre by seven citizens in 2016, the mass arrests in Fuzhou as well as Suzhou during the G20 in 2016, and the defense of lawyer Li Yuhan (李昱函) in 2017.

While he was engaged in all this, Li also held rights defense training sessions for house churches around China. According to Bob Fu, director of China Aid, over the last roughly ten years, Li has trained several thousands people; the most recent was in January 2018 in Henan — conducted while he was lying on his back after he injured his leg, as church leaders from the local district gathered around to hear him discuss how they should defend their rights according to the law.

 

Li Baiguang, Urgent Action training session

Training barefoot lawyers.

 

Between 2011 and 2013, Li taught in a number of training sessions for “barefoot lawyers” under the aegis of the “Chinese Urgent Action Working Group” (中国维权紧急援助组). In 2016 he also helped with a workshop for independent candidates for People’s Deputies elections. The Chinese Urgent Action Working Group is an NGO founded by the Swede Peter Dahlins, American Michael Caster, and rights lawyer Wang Quanzhang in 2009, offering legal training to rights defense lawyers and funding cases.

Li was extremely dedicated and hardworking, according to Dahlins. He focused on details, followed guidelines, and was always a long term thinker. Dahlins often joked with Michael Caster that Li Baiguang, who had met presidents and prime ministers, dressed and looked like a peasant.

Li also took part, with other human rights lawyers and activists, in trainings on the United Nations’ human rights mechanisms in Geneva under the aegis of Chinese Human Rights Defenders (维权网), an NGO that promotes human rights and rule of law in China.

Li Baiguang, 得撒豆腐村In around 2009, the 40-year-old Li, who had been single his whole life, married his former college friend Xu Hanmei (徐寒梅). In around 2010 they moved to Jurong (句容), a small city near Nanjing in Jiangsu Province, and settled down in a village called Desadoufu (得撒豆腐村). The name Desa comes from the Hebrew “Tirzah,” a Canaanite town mentioned in the Old Testament; the village, originally known for its stone mills used to grind soybeans for tofu, got its name from a church established by Western missionaries. It’s since become a tourist attraction for its pseudo-classical building complexes meant to recall the past.

Most residents in the town are Christians, Li Baiguang told friends. The community built its own kindergarten and elementary school, vegetable gardens, and sports pitch. “I felt like they built their own little Shangri-La,” Yang Zili said.

The Jianxi Church (涧西教会) that Li was associated with is the largest in the area, with around 200 stable congregants, most of whom were like Li: well-educated, having moved permanently to the village from elsewhere in China. For weekend church service, parishioners and catechumen (gradual converts) came from Zhejiang, Shanghai, Anhui and elsewhere, packing the church to the rafters. For these reasons, the church came to be watched closely by local religious affairs officials.

‘The night is nearly over; the day is almost here’

Li Baiguang was not part of any of the public incidents that have been brought to national attention by activists and netizens since 2008. In the mass arrests during the Jasmine Revolution of 2011, Li was not among them. When the New Citizens Movement became active between 2012 and 2013 and activists held regular dinner events, Li did not get involved. He wasn’t even part of the Chinese Human Rights Lawyers Group (人权律师团), founded in 2013. The 709 mass arrests of human rights lawyers didn’t implicate him, though for a while he signed up for being a defense counsel for 709 detainee lawyer Xie Yanyi. Numerous human rights lawyers have been barred from leaving the country; Li, on the other hand, traveled back and forth to America at will from 2006 to 2018.

Even when he was given trouble by police and state security, he did his best not to go public with it.

Per his own assessment in 2010, the authorities were “tolerating me to a much greater degree.” But his state of hypervigilance tells another story. A friend, Zheng Leguo (郑乐国), said that whenever he was with Li Baiguang in public places, Li would quickly scan his eyes over everyone in the vicinity to detect anything out of order. He was extremely careful about what he ate. When they ate at McDonalds, Li chose a table near the door,  that way he could see people coming in and going out, and he could also escape at a moment’s notice if need be.

For Li Baiguang, 2017 was a disturbing year.

In January, he traveled to Washington, D.C. for the 15th anniversary of China Aid held at the Library of Congress. It was an invitation only event. During his remarks, Li said that apart from the suppression of civil society and human rights lawyers, attacks against house churches were also getting more severe. “From this point forward, human rights in China will enter its darkest period.” He added that rights defenders in China would use their God-given wisdom and intelligence to promote human rights, democracy, and the rule of law; he also called on the international community and NGOs to do what they could to help. “The night is nearly over; the day is almost here,” he said, citing Romans 13.

Li Baiguang_China Aid 15th Anniversary

Li spoke at the 15th anniversary of China Aid in January, 2017.

Li’s remarks were somehow leaked, according to Bob Fu, and reached the Chinese authorities — when Li returned home was treated “with severity.”

On October 17, 2017, a case Li was defending, involving seafood farmers in Wenling, Zhejiang, suing the government for malfeasance, went to trial. In the evening as Li was returning to his hotel, he was abducted by a dozen unidentified men. They took him to a forest and worked him over. They slammed their fists into his head and ordered him to leave the city by 10:00 a.m. the next morning, or else they would decapitate him and cut off his hands and feet. “When he mentioned that kidnapping,” Bob Fu said, “it was the most frightened I had seen him. The incident shook him badly.”

Another case Li took on in 2017 involved the apparent murder of a certain Pastor Han, of Korean ethnicity, in Jilin, northeastern China. Han was a pastor in the Three-Self Patriotic Movement who provided aid to North Korean refugees, and encouraged them to return to North Korea and spread the Gospel. It appeared that he was assassinated by North Korean operatives.

Towards the end of the year, Li met with the Beijing-based AFP journalist Joanna Chiu. After they met in a Starbucks, Li led her out into a small alley, across the street, and into another coffeeshop in order to avoid surveillance. He told Ms. Chiu how he’d been beaten, and also the suspicious death of the pastor.

In early February 2018, Li was invited to the National Prayer Breakfast, an annual event dedicated to the discussion of religion in public life, attended by thousands, including the U.S. president, policymakers, and religious and business leaders. Bob Fu, in an interview with VOA after Li’s death, said that when Li was in the U.S. from February 5-11, the pastor of Jianxi Church was questioned about the whereabouts of Li and what he was doing in the United States. After he got back to China, he spoke with Fu twice, explaining that he was being investigated, and that danger felt imminent.

At 3:00 a.m. on February 26, 2018, Li Baiguang died in the Nanjing No. 81 PLA Hospital. In response to the widespread shock and suspicion, his family announced that he had died of late-stage liver cancer.

Coda

The death of Li Baiguang, like the death of Liu Xiaobo seven months ago, brings with it a momentous sense of ending. The PRC’s neo-totalitarian state grows more complete by the day; the discourse of political reform represented by Charter 08, and the rule-of-law trajectory sought by the rights defense movement, have hit a wall. Neither have room to expand. One by one, little by little, opportunities for further progress have been sealed and nixed. Truly, a ‘new era’ in China has begun.

The night is long; the worst is yet to come. Li Baiguang has died, like Liu Xiaobo, like Yang Tianshui, like Cao Shunli and all those who have fallen in the dark, but they live on; they are sparks of fire in the journey through night.

 

[1] They are Xu Zhiyong, Gao Zhisheng, Teng Biao, Pu Zhiqiang, Mo Shaoping, Li Baiguang, Zheng Enchong, Guo Feixiong, Li Heping, Fan Yafeng, Zhang Xingshui, Chen Guangcheng, and Zhu Jiuhu (许志永、高智晟、滕彪、浦志强、莫少平、李柏光、郑恩宠、郭飞雄、郭国汀、李和平、范亚峰、张星水、陈光诚以及朱久虎).

[2]  The Institute on Chinese Law & Religion was registered in Washington, DC. It is now inactive.

 

Yaxue Cao edits this website. Follow her on Twitter @yaxuecao

 

Read it in Chinese 《蚂蚁的力量:纪念李柏光律师》

 

 

 

 

Guo Feixiong Update: Hunger Strike Enters 52nd Day; Lawyers Allowed Visit

China Change, June 30, 2016

 

 

A Recap of Guo Feixiong’s Arrest, Sentencing, and Treatment in Prison

Guo Feixiong was arrested on August 13, 2013, for his role in the Southern Weekly protest at the beginning of that year, and his campaign to demand that China ratify the The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which China signed in 1998 but has never ratified. He was tried in November 2014, but it wasn’t until a year later that a sentence was announced. To deliver a harsher sentence, the court, in an unprecedented and preposterous move, added a second charge at the last minute of the trial, and Guo was sentenced to 6 years in prison for “gathering a crowd to disrupt order in a public place” and “provoking disturbances.”  During the 51 months in Tianhe Detention Center in Guangzhou, he was never allowed yard time. China Change called the inhumane treatment a deliberate effort to harm Guo Feixiong and kill him slowly.”

Early this year he was sent to the remote Yangchun Prison to serve the remainder of his sentence. For months he had blood in his stool, and his mouth bled. He was hardly able to stand after leaving his cell to meet his visiting sister. Both Guo Feixiong and the sister, who is herself a doctor, asked that Guo be given a medical checkup and treatment. A prison official known as Secretary Liu (刘干事) told the sister: “We’ll call an ambulance if he faints.”  

With no choice, in April Guo Feixiong’s sister publicized details of Guo Feixiong’s health condition and his treatment in prison. The activist community reacted strongly with a signature campaign calling for his release, and several hundreds have since taken part in a hunger strike relay.

Under pressure, the prison gave Guo Feixiong a physical checkup. At the same time, it used the occasion to dehumanize him. On May 9, he was forced to take a rectal exam, with a high-ranking official from the Guangdong Prison Administration Bureau videotaping the process and threatening to post it online. They shaved his head and required him to “squat like a bug in the presence of prison guards.”

On the same day (May 9), Guo Feixiong began a hunger strike to protest that treatment. Among his demands are the abolition of use of electric batons against prisoners, and the ratification of the ICCPR. In his meeting with his sister on June 13, he asked her to write to Li Jingyan (李景言), the chief of the Guangdong Prison Administration Bureau, requesting a prison transfer.

The Lawyers’ Latest Visit

On the afternoon of June 20, Guo Feixiong’s lawyers for imprisoned, Zhang Lei and Li Jinxing, traveled to the Yangchun Prison and met with him for 45 minutes. The parties were separated by glass, and a total of eight police stood close by. Guo has become extremely emaciated and weak, the lawyers said, compared to the last time they saw him on May 6. The lawyer conveyed the exhortations of Guo’s wife and family to cease his hunger strike.

His older sister Yang Maoping, as well as his wife Zhang Qing, had previously urged Guo to stop his hunger struck in letters that were submitted to the prison and given to Guo.

He thanked everyone’s good intentions and concern, but said that the prison has not ceased humiliating him and refused to meet his demands, and that he’ll continue the hunger strike. He said that he’s carrying out the hunger strike with utter seriousness, that it was a decision he thought through very carefully, and that it was a form of protest and resistance in the furtherance of his ideals. He said that even if he dies, it would be in the process of demanding that the ratification of the ICCPR — it would be a worthy death.

Lawyer Zhang Lei told Radio Free Asia that he’s highly anxious about Guo’s state and that a compromise to the satisfaction of all parties can be reached as soon as possible.

On Guo’s Letter of Appeal

Guo and his lawyers also spoke about his Letter of Appeal, a 29,000-word document that he prepared in response to his sentencing in December 2015. In it, he wrote that the court’s decision was “political persecution by the anti-democratic forces of darkness in China.” The authorities considered this to be an attack on the judicial system, so they wanted to delete that phrase, and also refused to allow Guo to sign it, which would have made it official. Zhang Lei said that he had deleted this particular sentence from the appeal, but the prison still wouldn’t allow it to be submitted. This, he added, didn’t come from the prison. Even the prison didn’t know where it came from, he said.

Guo Feixiong told the lawyers that his appeal “cannot be changed — not a single character of it.” The result was a deadlock.

Zhang Lei said that appeals are a matter for the personal determination of the appellant, and that no one else has the authority to intervene — including the prison, which has no right to censor parts of it.

The two lawyers don’t know the next time they’ll be able to see Guo.

 

Based on a RFA report of June 27, 2016.

 

 

 

‘China Is the Biggest Mad House in the World and CCP the Worst Lunatic’

Yaxue Cao, June 17, 2016

Great renaissance 62%

According to China’s National Development and Reform Commission, the renaissance of the Chinese nation is 62% complete. Cartoon by Kuang Biao.

 

I was on a Voice of America Chinese Service show on Thursday and, with the host and another guest, we discussed rights movement leader Guo Feixiong’s hunger strike, rumors about a young legal worker being violated in prison, and police-operated mental hospitals. A caller from Hubei Province by the surname Deng had this to say: “As a matter of fact, China is the biggest mental asylum in the world. A normal country would not have had the Great Leap Forward. A normal country would not have had the Cultural Revolution. A normal country would not have run over students with tanks. A normal country would not have prisoners of conscience and would not lock rights defenders in mental hospitals. The Communist Party are the worst lunatics.”

The host asked me for comment. I remarked: “Well said. No further comment.”

Over 800 days from his secret detention in August, 2013, to early this year when he was transferred the Yangchun Prison in Guangdong, Guo Feixiong (郭飞雄) was not allowed yard time, not a single time. This website has written extensively about such barbarism, calling it “slow killing” — except it’s not that slow. When his sister, a doctor, publicized his deteriorating health condition and the prison’s refusal to provide treatment, he was given a check-up. But officials from the Guangdong Provincial Prison Administrative Bureau used the occasion to humiliate him: they videotaped the forced rectal examination and threatened to post it online. They shaved his head and ordered him to squat “like a bug” in the presence of prison officers. To protest, he’s been on hunger strike for nearly 40 days now, and his sister, after sitting three days outside the prison, was refused visitation. The reason given? “Every one of my visits with him led to enormous amounts of international and domestic public opinion and attention and focus [on his case].”

赵威

Zhao Wei (in dark green coat) with lawyer Li Heping. Photo credit: Prof. Chen Taihe

Zhao Wei (赵威) is a young woman in her 20s with a keener sense of social justice than most of her peers. While a journalism student in Jiangxi Normal University, she videotaped protesters in front of a courthouse and was then chased down by armed police who ordered her to delete all the recordings. When she was a senior, interning in Fuzhou, she witnessed the “Three Netizens in Fujian” trial and the ensuing protests in April, 2010. She befriended activists, and was subsequently summoned by police for “questioning.” Eventually she became an assistant to Li Heping (李和平), a prominent rights lawyer. She was among the scores of lawyers, law staffers, and activists arrested last July, known as the “709 crackdown.” Almost a year into detention, none of them have had access to lawyers or families.

Recently there have been rumors that Zhao Wei was “sexually violated” in prison. More rumors followed, painting horrific scenarios. Her husband, her mother, lawyers and activists sought clarification from the authorities, but have been met with stone silence. Citizens have reasons to worry about Zhao Wei and, indeed, to believe the rumors, as the Chinese government have shown that it’s something they are perfectly capable of and have intentionally done in case after case.

China is probably the only country in the world where the Ministry of Public Security operates a chain of at least 27 mental hospitals across the country known as the “Tranquil and Healthy Hospitals” (安康医院).  Petitioners, Falun Gong practitioners, and sometimes political prisoners, have been thrown in mental hospitals. Recently, a news item from 2010 went viral on social media with the headline “The Ministry of Public Security: Mental Hospitals May Not Treat Non-mentally Ill Patients Without Permission from Police.” Netizens quickly parsed its understatement:

  •         With permission from the police, mental hospitals may admit normal people;
  •         Mental hospitals have done so before without police permission;
  •         Mental hospitals have done so before with police permission;
  •         Police, not medical professionals, decide whether one should be sent to a mental hospital.

My co-guest Zhao Yan (赵岩), whose resume includes a stint as researcher at The New York Times’ Beijing bureau in the 2000s and who was imprisoned for three years, has been involved in rights-defense lawsuits against local governments in China. “Are you mentally ill, doing what you are doing?” A judge once asked him. Indeed, challenging the authorities can easily be considered a “mental illness.”  

I don’t mean to merely repeat what we said on the show. What prompted this post is the news that followed in the last 24 hours which proves just what a nuthouse China is:

The Beijing-based lawyer Xia Lin (夏霖), who is a co-partner of the Huayi Law Firm with Pu Zhiqiang (浦志强), was tried on June 17 for “fraud.” He has been held incommunicado for nearly two years. It was an “open” trial, but none of those who attempted to observe were admitted. It’s unclear what “fraud” he has committed, but a glance over the list of his clients over the years may provide a clue: Cui Yingjie (崔英杰), a street vendor who killed a brutalizing chengguan in self-defense; Deng Yujiao (邓玉娇), a young woman who stabbed to death an official who demanded sex from her; artist Ai Weiwei’s Fake tax case; Sichuan writers Ran Yunfei (冉云飞) and Tan Zuoren (谭作人); NGO leader Guo Yushan (郭玉闪). Xia Lin was tortured for confessions.

lam-wing-kee

Bookseller Lam Wing-kee. Photo: AFP

In Hong Kong, bookseller Mr. Lam Wing-kee described abduction, detention and forced confession by a “Central Special Case Team.” He was one of five to suffer the same fate. Mr. Lam had been sent back to fetch customers’ data and was supposed to go back to custody in mainland China, but he defied them, and probably defied his own fear, too. “If I don’t speak up… then there is no hope for Hong Kong. There, in the quiet-mannered bookshop owner, is sanity and courage. That’s hope.

“The fact that Lam Wing-kee held a press conference in Hong Kong as soon as he returned without being concerned about his safety proves that Hong Kong is free,” argued the Global Times, the People’s Daily’s tabloid specializing in doing the Party’s dirty work. “Lam Wing-kee is a Chinese citizen,” said the Foreign Ministry’s spokeswoman, “who broke the law in mainland China.”

Block it! Block anything Lam says! Block the Global Times article too! Soon the Propaganda Department issued directives, because, oops, Chinese readers were able to piece together from the article what happened to Mr. Lam.  

Also today, two dissidents in Hangzhou, Lü Gengsong (吕耿松) and Chen Shuqing (陈树庆), were sentenced to 11 and 10.5 years respectively for writing a few essays and belonging to an opposition party called the “Chinese Democracy Party.” I have grown so numb with the unceasing flow of mad news that I had to pause to feel the shock vibrating in my mind — not just the cruelty of the punishment, but also the wantonness with which the punishment was delivered. It’s madness.  

Just when I thought this was enough for a bad day, lawyer Ge Yongxi (葛永喜) brought a message from lawyer Tang Jingling, who is serving a 5-year sentence for practicing some of Dr. Gene Sharp’s non-violent resistance methods:  

On the afternoon of June 16, 2016, I met with Mr. Tang Jingling in Guangzhou First Detention Center. Mr. Tang said that his cell had a new Uighur teenage prisoner named Ardu (阿尔都). He came from Kashar and his father is an elementary school teacher there. Ardu said that he was arrested the day after the Gaokao [China’s national college entrance exams held this year on June 7 and 8] along with nine other Uighur teenagers — eight males and two females, who are all students at Guangzhou No. 75 High School. They are allegedly involved in terrorist activities (details unclear). Mr. Tang called attention to the case of the ten Uighur youngsters, and he hopes that they will receive fair trials.

Talk about fair trials…

Madness keeps rolling in. On the show yesterday, I pointed out that, when the Re-education Through Labor system was abolished two years ago, some, both inside and outside China, applauded it as a progress towards the rule of law. I said at the time: “Don’t be too happy too soon. They’ll use prisons instead of labor camps; they’ll use black jails; they’ll use mental hospitals; they’ll invent new methods. You’ll soon be missing RTL!”

If you apply reason in dealing with the Chinese Communist Party, you’ll always be proven wrong. This bit of wisdom, part knowledge and part gut instinct, has served me well.  

 

Yaxue Cao edits this website. Follow her on Twitter @yaxuecao

 

 

Guo Feixiong’s Wife Urges Him to Stop Hunger Striking; Sister Refused Visitation to Deliver Letter

China Change, June 15, 2016

 

郭飞雄_张青的信

Zhang Qing’s letter to Guo Feixiong

 

On June 14, Beijing time, Gei Feixiong’s older sister Yang Maoping (杨茂平) went to the Yangchun Prison. Later, she wrote the following message: “Friends: my WeChat friends groups have been shut down, and my Sina Weibo account has also been blocked. My younger brother Guo Feixiong (Yang Maodong) has been on a hunger strike in the Yangchun Prison for over 30 days. Yesterday I went to the prison to deliver a letter by his wife, Zhang Qing (张青), urging him to stop fasting, and was prepared to tell him the same thing myself. But prison authorities didn’t let me see him. At about 5pm Beijing time, the office director of the prison came out and said: ‘If you think that you absolutely must see Yang Maodong, and that there’s some benefit to it, then we’ll go back and think the matter over. Go back to your hotel now and we’ll look into it tomorrow.’ I said: ‘OK, I believe you. I’ll be back tomorrow.’ So after sitting eight hours outside the prison, I went back to the hotel.”

According to the latest from an activist who follows the matter closely, the sister has still not been allowed to see Guo Feixiong.

Wife Zhang Qing’s letter to Guo Feixiong:

Hello, Yang Maodong, 

Writing you is like talking face to face again!

I have been mostly informed of the situation you’re in. I completely understand why you’re choosing a hunger strike to protest the extreme abuse you’re being subject to — but I’m also extremely worried about your health, and for the safety of your life. Myself and our children have been to New York and Washington, DC, trying to get help for you, and we’ve been meeting with different people.

A lot of our friends, young and old, asked me to tell you that they care a lot about you. Everyone is concerned about your health, and they too understand why you’re using a hunger strike to protest. They think that your demands are reasonable, because all the persecution you’ve suffered was because of this political system, which dishes out the worst abuse to political offenders. The authorities can easily improve the treatment of political prisoners if they wish to, and the demand you made is very basic.

If the authorities decide to treat you better, to meet the most basic and the most necessary conditions in custody, then I request that you consider the overall circumstances and cease this hunger strike. Later, we can discuss the situation based on the specifics of how you are treated.

Earlier on I mentioned to you that Cici [the couple’s daughter Sarah Yang] had composed a piano piece, “The Cosmos,” soon after you were locked up in August 2013. It was for you, and she explained that, in Chinese translation, she meant “The Starry Sky.” She said that “the cosmos” is just a general concept, but that “starry sky” is how our eyes encounter the cosmos and its grandeur. In September last year, a music publisher in Europe heard this tune, and he thought it was excellent. He contacted us through friends, and asked us to license it to him, so he could adapt it for lyrics. They’ve already arranged it as a song and sent us a sample in early May. It’s brilliant. They’re still tinkering with it to make it better.

Everything you’ve been doing is all part of a sincere hope that China will progress, to become a society with equal human rights, basic freedoms, and respect for life. These ideals, and striving to realize them, will always be the right thing to do.  

I love you, and our children love you, and we respect you deeply. Please stop your hunger strike!

 

Zhang Qing

June 9, 2016

 

郭飞雄_sister outside prison

Guo Feixiong’s sister outside the Yangchun Prison.

To contact Yangchun Prison:  

Prison chief Wu Zhanhua (吴湛华) — (+86 662 7806008)

Political commissar Liu Yang (刘扬) —  (+86 662 7806017)

 

To contact wife Zhang Qing or sister Yang Maoping: Ask @yaxuecao on Twitter.

 

China Change readers: Please call those phone numbers and demand that the prison improve conditions for Guo Feixiong. Even calls in English will help — it shows the officials that the world is watching them, and that they can’t act with impunity.

 

 

 

 

 

Over 200 People Support Guo Feixiong in a Hunger Strike Relay

By Yaqiu Wang, May 23, 2016

 

On April 26 when Yang Maoping (杨茂平), the sister of renowned Chinese rights activist Guo Feixiong
(郭飞雄), visited her brother in Yangchun Prison (阳春监狱), Guangdong Province, she found that his health had seriously deteriorated: he had blood in the stool, he mouth and throat were bleeding, and he couldn’t walk properly. She demanded that the prison authorities give him a medical examination, but was rejected. Guo’s compromised health condition is the result of the immense abuses and inhumane treatment he has suffered since his arrest in August 2013, including being denied yard time for consecutive 800+ days in a fetid detention center.

Guo Feixiong is a pioneer of the rights defense movement in China. He was sentenced to five years imprisonment in 2007, and in November 2015 again given a six year prison sentence. In both cases his treatment was naked political persecution aimed at forcing him to desist from his activism.

On April 27, writer Tan Zuoren (谭作人), who served a five-year prison sentence for his study into the engineering quality of the school buildings that collapsed, crushing students during the Wenchuan, Sichuan earthquake in 2008, posted a message online that he was going to engage in a hunger strike for one day in support of Guo Feixiong. He wrote: “A decade ago, to offer support for Guo Feixiong hunger striking in prison, our book study group in Chengdu all signed up for a hunger strike relay, one person fasting for each day. On the spot we gained over 30 participants who signed their names, joined the relay, and went on hunger strike in support of Feixiong. Today, in order to again rescue Feixiong, I am voluntarily hunger striking again for 24 hours.”

On April 29, 12 writers, activists, and dissidents initiated an “Urgent Call for the Medical Examination of Guo Feixiong,” a document to which over 1,000 people have so far affixed their signatures. In the current high-pressure political environment, seeing this kind of large-scale support for an imprisoned human rights activist in rare indeed. As expected, many of those who signed their names to the letter, or who fasted, were called in or threatened by police, but none of this dulled the momentum of support for Guo Feixiong’s case.

On May 2, a number of activists—including writers Tan Zuoren and Li Xuewen (黎学文), human rights lawyer Sui Muqing (隋牧青), and activist Ou Biaofeng (欧彪峰)—published online the document “A Proposal for Supporting Guo Feixiong Though a Hunger Strike Relay.” The Proposal stated that its purpose was “to urge the authorities to handle Guo Feixiong’s case according to the law and offer timely, effective, and reasonable medical help, to ensure that he has the most basic right to life and health.” The initiators of this hunger strike relay called for people to participate. It requested that every participant in the relay fast for 24 hours, during which time they could only drink water, and were forbidden to consume any other type of beverage or food. The initiators encouraged participants to make a public statement that they were doing the fast in support of Guo Feixiong. The activist Wu Yuhua, based in Thailand, is coordinating the record keeping.

On May 13, Guo’s older sister said that under pressure from the outside world, the Yangchun Prison on May 9 took Guo to the prison hospital for a health examination. However, in her open letter to Party leader Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang on May 19, Guo’s wife Zhang Qing (张青) revealed that the prison authorities gave Guo Feixiong a rectal examination by force without his sister being present, recorded the process on video, and threatened him with posting it online. Later, they shaved his head, and commanded him that every time he saw a prison guard, he had to squat down with hands clasped behind his head “like an insect.” Protesting the inhumane treatment, Guo announced on May 9 that he would be embarking on a hunger strike of indefinite duration.

A tally of the hunger strike relay participants.

A tally of the hunger strike relay participants (click to enlarge).

On May 14, Wang Juntao (王军涛), the New York-based chairman of the National Committee of the Democratic Party of China, announced that members of his organization would begin a hunger strike relay outside of the United Nations Headquarters, and that each participant would fast for 24 hours as long as Guo Feixiong is continuing his hunger strike.

From May 4 to 22,  at least 216 people inside and outside China have taken part in the hunger strikes relay.

Alongside all this, netizens from around China have been photographing themselves holding placards in support of Guo Feixiong, then uploading the images to the internet. Many others have sent postcards and monetary donations to Guo. “Have you sent a postcard today?” Activist Wang Lihong (王荔蕻) posts to Twitter every day. “Use postcards and donations showing your love to break down their doors!” Recently she and a group of others drove to the Yangchun Prison, but they were intercepted as soon as they got close.

Following is a selection of the statements by those who have taken part in the hunger strike relay so far:

Guo Feixiong’s wife, Zhang Qing, wrote: “I understand his resistance. What has happened to him is intolerable. I’ve determined to do everything in my power to see that Feixiong walks out of jail alive.”

Sun Yat-sen University professor Ai Xiaoming (艾晓明):  “After Guo Feixiong gets out of prison [in 2011], he can come to my house, and I gave him the photographs taken by his young son when visiting in prison. I recommend that he leaves China and sees his wife and their two lovely children. He said, ‘Once I leave, I won’t be able to come back anymore.’ He’s willing to lay down his life so that China sees freedom and democracy. This is his choice. Guo Feixiong continues to use his own sacrifices to show that our generation loves freedom, and that every inch of freedom requires a pint of blood.”

Professor Ai continued: “I know that hunger striking for 24 hours isn’t an extraordinary achievement. You certainly won’t die from it. And furthermore, no system that is as inhumane as this one will be moved by the sacrifice. But at the same time, we all need to express our individual political stance, to show what we think is right and wrong; resistance needs transparency and openness. … You don’t want to die like Wei Zexi (魏则西) or Xu Chunhe (徐纯合), but what have you done about protecting your own rights and freedoms? You can emigrate whether or not you’ve become wealthy, but the freedom you enjoy over there isn’t  your own glory—it’s the fruit of the struggle of others. I’m not going to leave. I’m going to stand right here on this piece of land and, with my brothers and countrymen, win over our own rights and freedom. I’m going to raise a flag for freedom right here in China!”

The poet Wang Zang (王藏) wrote:  “As soon as I learned about the savage treatment of Mr. Guo Feixiong in custody I wanted to join in the hunger strike relay protest. But I hesitated, concerned about threats I would receive and the distress it would cause my wife and child. In the end, I decided that I still need to make my stance public. My wife was supportive: If we say nothing about even this, then we’re living a subhuman life.”

Rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng (高智晟), a close friend and colleague of Guo Feixiong, also added his voice. The two of them have long worked together, first in the Taishi Village incident (太石村罢免村官, in which villagers sought to get rid of corrupt local officials) and a range of other public incidents, and both have, for their activism, been subject to shocking levels of brutal torture. Gao wrote: “Our concern for Guo Feixiong’s health is not a frivolous matter. This involves the man’s life. Everyone who is connected with Guo has ample reason to take this extremely seriously, and in so doing demonstrate one’s own connection to humanity.”

Jiang Tianyong (江天勇), the rights lawyer, wrote: “Even though I know what Guo is going through, I worry that I’ll become numb or even forget, so I want to, through fasting for a day, ensure that I imprint this suffering in myself at every moment: and this goes for all others, too, including Yu Shiwen, and the rights lawyers and activists arrested on July 9, 2015, including Li Heping, Wang Yu, Hu Shigen, Liu Xing, and all others who like them are fighting for the freedom and dignity of myself, my family, and all of the Chinese people. I know that all of them have to take care of both their aging parents and young children, and they have worries and misgivings, fear and struggles, sometimes willing and sometimes not, they take it upon themselves, and they bear this for others. I hope that all people in the world with conscience an open hearts will learn that there is a group of people like this in China’s jails right now. We all call out and mobilize for Guo Feixiong, Yu Shiwen, and all others persecuted in the July 9 crackdown. When they’re free, we’ll have moved one step closer to freedom. Let’s struggle together.”

Rights activist Wang Lihong wrote: “Comparatively speaking, whose life is the more valuable? Whose occupies the brighter place — even if all this sacrifice is not known about, or even jeered at? We are using this seemingly minor act to express our hearts toward Guo Feixiong, and to send our goodwill to those activists and prisoners of conscience who have, are, or will be jailed so that society can progress. We’re resisting the evil that persecutes them! Please believe that this has power! Our voices will be heard, our perseverance will be witnessed, and the freedom that we are striving for will eventually come closer and closer.”

Tang Jingling (唐荆陵, currently in jail) wrote: “May 16 this year marks our second year of imprisonment (for myself, Yuan Xinting [袁新亭], and Wang Qingying [王清营]), and also the 50th anniversary since the Chinese Communist Party launched the Cultural Revolution, dragging the entire population into calamity. Hunger striking on this day has a special meaning: refusing to forget the suffering of our people! Let us join hands and remake China!”

Lawyer Chen Jiangang (陈建刚) asked: “Will Guo Feixiong’s case end in tragedy, like what happened with Cao Shunli (曹顺利)? Back then, lawyer Wang Yu also worried for Cao Shunli’s life, and I didn’t believe it would get to that point—but Cao still died a tragic death. The reason everyone is so anxious about Guo Feixiong is because the authorities  have no moral bottom line.”

Chu Guoren (楚国人), a netizen, wrote: “I’m scared to write this statement — but when I think of all the rank unfairness and innumerable injustices happening all around, the vulnerable people who are suffering without help or attention, I can’t remain indifferent. This is another reason I want to hunger strike in protest for Guo Feixiong. Each Chinese person, please don’t be afraid: let’s support Guo Feixiong for ourselves, and for all of the ordinary people like us.”

Zhu Xinxin (朱欣欣) from Shijiazhuang wrote: “Violating the human rights of one person is violating the human rights of oneself. Those who persecute others and trample on their human rights are, at the same time, tightening the noose around their own necks.”

 

Yaqiu Wang researches and writes about human rights in China. Follower her on Twitter @Yaqiu.

———–

Related articles about Guo Feixiong

Activist Guo Feixiong Held 743 Days Without Yard Time

Meet Guo Feixiong  

Guo Feixiong, a Civil Rights Hero

Lawyers Describe Trial of Guo Feixiong and Sun Desheng

 

中文 声援郭飞雄接力绝食抗议已20天,200多人参加

 

 

Guo Feixiong on Hunger Strike in Prison, Wife Details Degrading Treatemnt in an Open Letter to Xi Jinping and Li Keqiang

Zhang Qing, May 19, 2016

郭飞雄2 (2)

Guo Feixiong in Beijing, summer of 2012. Photo provided by Guozhen Xiao.

 

President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang:

My name is Zhang Qing. My husband Guo Feixiong (also known by his original name, Yang Maodong) has been framed by the authorities for protesting in support of the employees at Southern Weekly, for calling for freedom of speech and ratification of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and for demanding that officials disclose their assets. Having been wrongfully convicted of “gathering a crowd to disrupt order in a public place” and “provoking a serious disturbance,” Guo Feixiong was sentenced to six years’ imprisonment in Guangdong’s Yangchun Prison (广东阳春监狱). There, his health has seriously deteriorated. However, not only has he been denied treatment; in fact the domestic security police and prison authorities in Guangdong have taken steps to persecute him in new ways. For this reason, on May 9 Guo Feixiong launched a hunger strike in protest.

Guo Feixiong’s hunger-strike demands are as follows:

For President Xi Jinping to launch political reforms;

For the government to abolish all punishment by electric shock;;

For the government to improve the treatment of all political prisoners in its prisons; and

For the government to ratify the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

At 6 a.m. on May 9, Guo Feixiong announced that he was beginning an indefinite hunger strike. The reason was because domestic security and prison authorities in Guangdong had taken advantage of his need for medical treatment to secretly retaliate against him. Without his family present, Yangchun Prison forced a weakened Guo Feixiong to undergo a rectal examination, which they videotaped and threatened to post online. Afterwards, the prison forcibly shaved Guo Feixiong’s head and verbally threatened him, ordering him to squat down with hands clasped behind his head “like an insect” whenever an officer was present. Guo Feixiong has now been on hunger strike for 11 days, and under the pressure of his poor health and these new persecutions, he is now on the brink of death.

Here is what has happened most recently:

On April 26, Guo Feixiong’s sister Yang Maoping went to visit him. She learned that for the past year Guo has been intermittently suffering from bloody bowel movements and bloody diarrhea. Since arriving at the prison, he has also suffered intermittently from bleeding in his throat and mouth. He was sent to the prison hospital on April 7, and on April 19 he bled so heavily he was unable to walk steadily. During his meeting with the prison’s political counsellor, Officer Liu (刘干事), Guo Feixiong was practically unable to stand. At the hospital, he has been held for all but one hour a day in a windowless room with four other people. When he asked to be given the necessary physical examinations, Officer Liu refused to give his permission, saying: “When you collapse, we’ll send you to the hospital for emergency treatment.”

On May 6, Guo was permitted to meet with his lawyer for only two minutes before the meeting was cut short.

On May 7, Officer Luo (罗警官) of the Guangdong Domestic Security Division went to see Yang Maoping at her work. Officer Luo said that Guo Feixiong was being sent to the hospital for examination. Luo asked whether Guo Feixiong cared a lot about his personal privacy. Yang Maoping said that he cared a great deal about his right to privacy and requested that a family member be present as he underwent an endoscopy. They agreed to her request, and Maoping made plans to go to visit Guo Feixiong at Yangchun Prison on Friday, May 13.

Li Jingyan

Li Jingyan (李景言), Chief of the Guangdong Prison Administrative Bureau. 

At 10 a.m. on May 9, Maoping received a telephone call from Officer Liu at Yangchun Prison. He said: “I heard you’re coming. What time will you be here?” Maoping replied that she’d arrive on Friday. Officer Liu suggested that she come earlier. So, Maoping set off for Guangdong on May 10. That evening, she arrived in Guangzhou. No sooner had her train reached the station when she got a telephone call from Officer Luo, who asked to speak with her in person. Subsequently she met with several people, including Officer Luo of the provincial domestic security division and the Chief of the Guangdong Prison Administrative Bureau. They wanted Maoping to urge Feixiong to end his hunger strike and warned her not to make public anything that Guo Feixiong said to her. They threatened that if she revealed anything, they wouldn’t let her or any lawyers meet with Guo Feixiong and they would place him in solitary confinement.

[Editors’ Note: Zhang Qing granted China Change permission to reveal details of this meeting. Li Jingyan (李景言), the chief of the Guangdong Prisoner Administrative Bureau, can be reached via “Chief’s Mailbox” at jyj_bgs@gd.gov.cn]

On May 11, Yang Maoping met with Guo Feixiong at Yangchun Prison. He told her that on May 9 the prison had acted against his wishes and forcibly given him a rectal examination, which they recorded and threatened to publish online. That same day, they forcibly shaved his head. He began a hunger strike in protest. He said that people would need to shed blood and sacrifice themselves for democracy and constitutional government in China. He said: “If I’m not willing to make these sacrifices, who will?” Yang Maoping said that Guo Feixiong was physically weak and drenched in sweat from his hunger strike. The prison authorities asked Yang Maoping to visit with Guo Feixiong again that afternoon and urge him to give up his hunger strike. She said: “He’s not strong enough for that, so I’m not coming in the afternoon to try to persuade him.”

On May 12, Maoping went to see Guo Feixiong again and urged him, unsuccessfully, to call off his hunger strike. He declined. The next day, Maoping left the prison.

Guo Feixiong’s indefinite hunger strike in prison is in response to the deliberately degrading way he has been treated by the authorities. Two days after Office Luo met with Yang Maoping and specifically asked whether Guo Feixiong cared a great deal about his personal privacy, prison authorities deliberately took advantage of the fact that Maoping hadn’t yet arrived at the prison and forcibly carried out a rectal examination on Guo Feixiong, which they recorded and then threatened to post online.

Guo Feixiong protests

Two activists (Zhong Jinghua, left, and Chen Chuangchuang) staging a protest in front of the UN Headquarters in New York. Click to enlarge. 

Guo Feixiong has made abolition of punishment by electric shock one of the demands of his hunger strike because the authorities at Yangchun Prison use such punishments against “disobedient” inmates. The prison has probably deliberately let Guo Feixiong see these kinds of punishments as a way of threatening him.

No one has the right to persecute Guo Feixiong to death, and the perpetrators of these evils must be stopped. These evil deeds have gone way beyond what ordinary people could possibly imagine, past the basic standards of human decency, and across the line of what human beings can endure. The evil deeds that are being deliberately planned and carried out by the domestic security and prison authorities in Guangdong are the direct cause of Guo Feixiong’s hunger strike protest and have destroyed him mentally and physically, posing even greater danger to his life.

President Xi and Premier Li: the brazenly unlawful behavior of the domestic security and prison authorities in Guangdong makes a mockery of the Chinese authorities’ claim to “govern the country according to the law.” I hope you will look into Guo Feixiong’s case, hold the perpetrators legally accountable for their wrongdoing, and order the relevant departments to provide Guo Feixiong with effective medical treatment.

At the same time, I call on the international community, human rights organizations, and righteous media organizations to pay attention to the grave danger facing Guo Feixiong and demand that the relevant Chinese authorities end their brutal political persecution of Guo Feixiong, who must be acquitted and released!

 

Zhang Qing (张青)

May 19, 2016

 

原文:郭飞雄妻子张青致习近平主席、李克强总理公开信, 2016年5月19日

 


Related:

Activist Guo Feixiong Held 743 Days Without Yard Time, August 21, 2015

Lawyers Describe Trial of Guo Feixiong and Sun Desheng, China Change, November 28, 2014.

Meet Guo Feixiong, a profile by Xiao Guozhen, China Change, July 23, 2014.