My “Feud” with Lawyer Jiang Tianyong
By Wang Qiaoling
When Jiang Tianyong first arrived in Beijing to work as a lawyer, he was in the same firm as Li Heping and Li Chunfu. Heping and Jiang Tianyong were from the same town, and had been classmates; Heping always called Jiang, “Old Jiang.” Sometimes when they disagreed they would argue; Heping would get utterly exasperated, and shout, “Jiang, you old codger!”
As the number of human rights lawyers in the firm increased, the Bureau of Justice repeatedly applied pressure. Finally, in 2009, the firm’s human rights lawyers faced the reality of having to switch firms. I remember at that time Heping said to me: In the future, out of all these lawyers, the one who will become a great lawyer is Jiang Tianyong. At the time, Old Jiang had only been working for five years. In fact, there were a number of lawyers from Li Heping’s firm who later became great lawyers (Li Xiongbing, Li Chunfu, Jiang Tianyong, etc.). Some people might think the definition of a “great lawyer” depends on how much money one makes and how famous one is. I, however, believe that great lawyers are those who abide by their conscience.
Old Jiang and I became “enemies” because of human rights cases. I had been doing what I could to oppose Heping in representing those cases. I had tried every possible way to discourage him, but he wouldn’t listen, and I felt anxious and helpless. Back then, it seemed that Heping and Old Jiang had so much to talk about that they could never stop talking. Whenever they were together they would just talk and talk, all about cases. When I heard them I got really angry, and felt that Old Jiang was ruining Heping. It was only that I didn’t have the chance to express it.
One time when Heping had gone out, I tried to call him but couldn’t get through. I got really anxious, and began calling his fellow lawyers. When I phoned Old Jiang I couldn’t mask my fear. Old Jiang was really annoyed, and he said, “Do you have to be so afraid?” I was upset and agitated, so I hung up.
From that point on, I did not speak to Old Jiang for three years, and I refused to let him come to my house. Every time Old Jiang came to see Heping, they had to meet downstairs and talk by the side of the road.
Later Heping complained to me: “You’re like a wolfdog by my side, biting all my friends and driving them away.” But when others came to complain about me, Heping was determined not to give in! Heping’s motto was: She’s my wife, and I’ll take the punches for her.
If it weren’t for 709, I would have continued to believe that I was right: not understanding Heping, and actively shielding myself from the truth of vicious incidents in our society.
As soon as these vicious incidents happen, they would sufficiently horrify civilized society. However, we actually choose to be numb, and to avoid it!
Looking at the earth-shattering news that Old Jiang has once again disappeared, and thinking about how Heping and Chunfu disappeared for nearly one year and five months without any information [from the authorities]—make me realize how wrongheaded I had been in treating lawyer Jiang Tianyong as an enemy, and how worthless my role as the “big wolfdog” was.
So, thank you, 709, for finally clearing my blindness and enlightening me.
Wang Qiaoling, 709 Family Member
November 30, 2016
From a Group of Women, a Letter for One Woman—Happy Birthday Lawyer Wang Yu!
April 29, 2016
Dear Lawyer Wang Yu:
Hello! After July 9, 2015, when we saw that famous video of you on the Internet, our first feeling was: how were you able to point at the bailiff and reprimand him in court?
We were really hoping the video would cut to where you were pointing, so that we could see exactly what was happening in that direction!
It’s a pity that the only court we’ve ever been to is the administrative court of Tianjin High Court. There, they have six cameras all pointing in different directions around the courtroom. They say this type of set-up leaves no blind spots.
We don’t know how many cameras were set up in the court where you scolded that person, but it’s really odd that the video doesn’t show exactly what happened in the direction you were pointing.
After asking countless people, we found the lawyer’s records from the courtroom; only then did we learn that in the direction you were pointing and scolding, four bailiffs were pinning a woman to the ground.
This woman was, indeed, a criminal suspect, but as she was being interrogated by the police she had been stripped naked, slapped in the face and given electric shocks to her genitals… As this abused woman stood up to protest the court’s illegal trial proceedings, the bailiffs tripped her, causing her to fall to the ground, where four male bailiffs pinned her body down.
This woman’s 80-year-old mother watched her daughter’s maltreatment from the court gallery, with no way to get near. Lawyer Dong Qianyong was expelled from the courtroom as he tried to protest. And you, pointing to the bailiffs and scolding them for being degenerates and beasts, were thus recorded.
Those who don’t know any better might think you’re an evil woman howling in the courtroom. But those who know the truth cannot help but feel miserable. Who would have thought this was the cause [for your own detention]? However, if one has already experienced the vulnerability of individual rights being trampled by a formidable public authority, one already knows that the truth will forever be ruthless, evil, and dark.
If we hadn’t lived through the disappearances of our own loved ones (husbands, brothers, daughters, etc.), we might also believe that story told in the official video. However, since we ourselves have experienced the individual, lawful rights of the weak being trampled on by the authorities, we began to question why the video never cut to show what was happening in the direction you were pointing.
If today even we—women who care only about our own simple lives—have begun to consider this, then perhaps anyone in China may have long been thinking about this! Out of fear, the official practice is to conceal the truth. There’s nothing hidden that doesn’t get revealed! CCTV can smear your name as much as it wants, but the result is that everyone has long learned to understand the opposite!
The thing I want to say is if we were in the court, we would want to join you in scolding the bailiffs who bullied and insulted women! If, as a result, you were expelled from the courtroom, it would be our honor to be expelled alongside you!
We didn’t know you before, but after the 709 Crackdown, we knew you from the Internet. Afterwards we were excited to discover a group photo: Wang Qiaoling’s husband, lawyer Li Heping; Li Wenzu’s husband, lawyer Wang Quanzhang; Chen Guiqiu’s husband, lawyer Xie Yang; and you, Lawyer Wang Yu. We all let out a gasp: almost everyone in the photo has “been disappeared”!
But how were you “disappeared”? If you truly were disgraced, as shown on CCTV, then why would the government take so long to follow the normal criminal proceedings to deal with you? The more the authorities behave like this, the more we trust in you!
Although none of your family members have come out to defend you and your husband, we will eagerly be your loved ones, and eagerly be Bao Mengmeng’s loved ones. We’ve never met you but we dream of it!
On May 1, we wish you a Happy Birthday!
China’s 709 Incident
Lawyer Li Heping’s wife, Wang Qiaoling
Lawyer Wang Quanzhang’s wife, Li Wenzu
Lawyer Wang Quanzhang’s elder sister, Wang Quanxiu
Gou Hongguo’s wife, Fan Lili
Zhai Yanmin’s wife, Liu Ermin
Written April 29, 2016
Open Letter to Mr. Xi Jinping from Families of the 709 Crackdown
October 24, 2016
Dear General Secretary of the Communist Party of China and Chairman of the National Security Council Xi Jinping,
As the Sixth Plenary Session of the 18th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China is being convened, we are writing this letter in full respect, in hopes of explaining our circumstances to you.
We are the families of the victims of the 709 crackdown, well-known to the police and watched from around the world. From July 10 of last year (2015) on, we have searched for our loved ones: truly a difficult path to tread. Our loved ones were taken by the police with no further news of their whereabouts. It was not until January 8 of this year that we finally received their “Notices of Arrest,” informing us that they had been accused of either “subversion of state power” or “inciting subversion of state power.” For this past year and four months, the rights guaranteed by the Chinese Constitution and Criminal Procedure Law have been trampled into oblivion by the police authorities. As time moves on, what we know from various departments of the public security, procuratorate, and judiciary indicates that this has been a major case directed by the National Security Council and carried out by a vast task force. What’s more, the leader of the National Security Council is none other than you, Chairman Xi.
If you’d said around July and August of last year that you were unaware of the details of the 709 crackdown, which rides roughshod on your plan to “rule the nation according to the law” that you advocated, we would have believed you. But after the public smearing in reports on CCTV and in the Global Times, and the international media’s truthful coverage, you must already know about a case of such significance! If you still don’t know about it, then the people working for you need to take stock of their jobs and think about what they are doing. However, this is no matter: we are writing this letter to you now, so you will be sure to know all about it!
We’ll just take a few sentences to summarize the 709 crackdown, which has been going on now for nearly one year and four months.
The scope of the dragnet seems to know no bounds; the media stoops to all depths in its smear campaign; and there is no upper limit to the tortures that are being committed. Families and relatives are implicated with impunity, and legal procedure is violated repeatedly; “open” trials are all restricted.
Regarding the scope of the dragnet: The police authorities have detained roughly 300 human rights lawyers and citizens, among them a husband and wife couple (Wang Yu (王宇)and Bao Longjun (包龙军)), two brothers (Li Heping (李和平)and Li Qunfu (李春富)), a father and son (Wu Gan (吴淦) and his son), as well as a large number of innocent citizens. The large scope of the crackdown in fact merits the term “movement.”
The domestic media’s smear campaign knows no depth. Chinese domestic media has not only been smearing our loved ones, but has also been smearing us—those who have been looking for our loved ones. They chopped up our videos and added their own audio. If we hadn’t experienced this personally, we probably wouldn’t have believed how despicable the Party-controlled media could be!
The torture knows no upper limit. The cruelty and torture that our loved ones have undergone makes one bristle with fury, far exceeding the torture meted out in the KMT’s Zhazi Cave in Chongqing. The news of lawyer Xie Yang’s (谢阳) torture, how he was tortured into making a confession, how he was subjected to mental torment and physical punishment, makes it impossible for us to sleep at night.
Imputing guilt by association knows no bounds: The authorities are implicating additional lawyers from the Zhou Shifeng Law Firm as well as from other law firms, and are implicating their families and defense lawyers, restricting their practice, restricting their ability to leave the country, preventing their children from going to school, and preventing them from finding a place to live. The authorities are threatening loved ones and children, threatening jobs, and threaten even lives….
The violation of legal procedure goes beyond limitless. For over a year, public security and procuratorate departments have refused to accept case documents filed by defense lawyers on behalf of their clients, have refused to accept letters from family members, and have illegally restricted the freedom of movement of families and lawyers. Families have been notified of the “Four Nos”: 1. hiring lawyers; 2. sending out WeChat and weibo messages; 3. contacting other families of 709 crackdown victims; 4. doing interviews with foreign media. We families have been unable to locate a government office in charge of these cases, but the police authorities sent out a spokesperson to deal with us families and lawyers. We have been asked to urge our loved ones to confess their guilt and submit to punishment. And those released on bail have not been seen by anyone. Even defense lawyers are detained and forced to make confessions. Defense representatives and families who attempted to file complaints and appeals are simply ignored by the Higher Procuratorate, and the Supreme Procuratorate ….
“Open” trials are all restricted. The “open” trials in early August became a farce. Everything was restricted: attorneys, families, the media. On trial days, we family members were illegally detained at home by the police authorities, who had no warrants for doing so and who did not show any employment identification. All sorts of unlawful and even serious criminal acts—there is nothing the police are not capable of doing, not even the unimaginable ones.
There is an old saying in China: “It’s not too late to mend the fence even if the sheep are already gone.” If you act immediately to correct the violations of the law, perhaps you can still speak of “ruling the nation according to the law.” As the Sixth Plenary Session of the 18th Central Committee of the Communist Party is being convened, we urge you, the highest ranking leader in this great country, to monitor this situation closely and to immediately correct the mistakes made in these cases. We urge you to bring justice to all those detained in the 709 crackdown as well as their families and defense lawyers, and immediately release all those still being held in custody. We believe that if you immediately correct the various legal violations in the handling of the 709 cases, immediately release all lawyers and citizens being held, you will be amply praised by the people.
We await your attention and concern, Chairman Xi! We await objective and just outcomes for all those involved in the 709 cases, and the genuine freedom of all those implicated!
709 family members
- Wang Qiaoling (王峭岭) (wife of lawyer Li Heping)
- Li Wenzu (李文足) (wife of lawyer Wang Quanzhang)
- Yuan Shanshan (原姗姗) (wife of lawyer Xie Yanyi)
- Chen Guiqiu (陈桂秋) (wife of lawyer Xie Yang)
- Xie Huicheng (谢惠成) (father of lawyer Xie Yang)
- Liang Fengying (谢惠成) (mother of lawyer Xie Yang)
- Huang Yi (黄 仪) (sister of lawyer Xie Yang)
- Xie Yangjun (谢扬军) (brother of lawyer Xie Yang)
- Xie Cuiping (谢翠平) (sister of lawyer Xie Yang)
- Xiao Song (肖 松) (elder brother-in-law of lawyer Xie Yang)
- Xie Baolian (谢保连) (sister of lawyer Xie Yang)
- Qin Mingnan (秦名南) (brother-in-law of lawyer Xie Yang)
- Xie Chilian (谢池连) (sister of lawyer Xie Yang)
- Huang Yuanyou (黄渊友) (brother-in-law of lawyer Xie Yang)
- Xie Wanlian (谢晚连) (sister of lawyer Xie Yang)
- Yuan Bangqun (袁邦群) (brother-in-law of lawyer Xie Yang)
- Xie Juping (谢菊平) (sister of lawyer Xie Yang)
- Lin Youguo (林又国) (brother-in-law of lawyer Xie Yang)
- Xie Xuhua (谢续华) (nephew of lawyer Xie Yang)
- Ning Haiyan (宁海燕) (nephew of lawyer Xie Yang)
- Chen Jiamu () (father of lawyer Xie Yang)
- Wang Quanxiu (王全秀) (sister of lawyer Wang Quanzhang)
- Li Maodi (李茂堤) (father-in-law of lawyer Wang Quanzhang)
- Wang Fengen (王凤恩) (father of lawyer Wang Quanzhang)
- Mo Zhenglan (莫正兰) (mother of lawyer Wang Quanzhang)
- Li Rongsheng (李荣生) (fathers of lawyers Li Heping & Li Chunfu)
- Wang Youhua (王友华) (mother of lawyers Li Heping & Li Chunfu)
- Li Chunlian (李春连) (sister of lawyers Li Heping & Li Chunfu)
- Yang Bo (杨 波 ) (nephew of lawyers Li Heping & Li Chunfu)
- Wang Changyun (王昌运) (father-in-law of lawyer Li Heping)
- Ren Yuqin (任玉琴) (mother-in-law of lawyer Li Heping)
- Wang Xianfeng (王险峰) (lawyer Li Heping’s wife’s brother)
- Li Ying (李 英) (lawyer Li Heping’s wife’s sister)
- Wang Junyan (王峻岩) (lawyer Li Heping’s wife’s sister)
- Wang Wei (王 伟) (lawyer Li Heping’s wife’s nephew)
Application to Observe Trial of Li Heping by Wang Qiaoling
The honorable Tianjin No. 2 Intermediate People’s Court:
Over the past few days, I’ve seen news about the trials of the “709” cases, and was really shocked. In the verdicts released on three consecutive days, I saw a name I had not seen for a long time, that of Li Heping, my husband.
I’m filled with anxiety and cannot calm down. Ever since Li Heping was taken away from our home by Tianjin police on July 10, 2015, I have had no news of him—it has been 13 months. At first, he was “disappeared” for six months. And, later, it was with great difficulty that I found his arrest notice. Yet still, Li Heping has not been able to see any lawyers, or receive any letters. I couldn’t even find the government appointed lawyer—and the Tianjin police refused to tell me who that lawyer is.
I luckily heard the news about the court trials [of the week beginning August 1] and immediately rushed to Tianjin. But I did not expect that the bailiffs would drag me out of the court house, that the police would drag me to the police station, or that the Domestic Security officers would drag me back to Beijing.
Between August 2 and August 5, even though my husband wasn’t on trial, I, as a family member of someone affected in the “709” crackdown, was still under strict surveillance at home and was not allowed to leave—the door was guarded by three or four people.
I thought back and forth, from the perspective of educating Li Heping and his family—not to mention from a legal perspective (is there any rule of law at all?)—please let me observe the trials!
Although I have always firmly believed that my husband is innocent and has been framed, just in case the prosecutor’s evidence is conclusive and my husband is convicted, if I as his wife, could be there with him when he accepts the trial’s outcome—wouldn’t that be the best “educative warning” for our family?
Furthermore, is it not my basic responsibility, as his wife, to stand by him to share all burdens no matter the hardship?
At the same time I also believe that Li Heping, being the excellent criminal lawyer that he is, wouldn’t obstruct his wife from observing the trial. If Li Heping himself strongly requests that I not observe, I kindly request that the court tell him to write a personal letter to me to explain.
Additionally, I saw that some family members of those affected in the “709” crackdown requested the confirmation of trial dates and were smeared by the Communist Youth League on weibo as carrying out espionage activities. I hereby declare that, from July 31, 2016, I have already been illegally detained in my residence by Beijing police for five days. I called the police on 110 but no police ever came. My current request to meet with Li Heping, along with being interviewed by the media, do not constitute espionage activities.
Based on the above reasons, I kindly request the honorable court to allow me to observe Li Heping’s trial. No matter how bad the result will be, I can accept it.
Thank you very much. I will be most grateful if my request is approved.
Applicant: Wang Qiaoling
August 4, 2016
“To Advance Rule of Law, and Never Again Be Violated by the Powerful—
Please Support Human Rights Lawyers!”
He Fengzhu from Wuxi, six months pregnant, set off firecrackers at Tiananmen Square. She was later taken away by authorities from the Binhu District branch of the Wuxi Municipal Public Security Bureau, and finally released on bail.
In the account below, which consists of information she provided directly to HRIC and posted online in petition and human rights chat groups, He Fengzhu explains that she set off fireworks in Tiananmen Square on October 11, 2015 to expose the harm that Wuxi authorities had caused to her family—including forcibly demolishing their home, arbitrarily detaining and intentionally injuring them—and to call for the advancement of a rule of law, and advocate for human rights lawyers who strive to promote that cause.
* * *
On Why I Set Off Firecrackers in Tiananmen Square and Lawyer Wang Yu
[Translation by Human Rights in China]
October 27, 2015, 11:20am, I set off fire crackers at Tiananmen Square, distributed leaflets, and chanted slogans. I was then taken to the Tiananmen district police branch so that the police could make a written record. At 9:00pm, I was handed over to the police at the Binhu branch who took me in a commercial vehicle. On the way, the petition intercept personnel from Taihu Neighborhood [Administration], Binhu District, instigated the police and some other unidentified individuals to seize my mobile phone.
I arrived at Dongjiang police sub-station at 12:30pm on October 28, and was directly led to an interrogation room without going through any procedures. I was not allowed to answer phone calls during that time, which was an infringement on my right to communicate. At 1:30pm, the police from the sub-station came to make a written record. I asked for a summons but they didn’t provide one straightway. At 3:30pm, they finished their written record—for which they provided both the questions and answers—and then showed me the summons. I pressed them to add an explanation on the record that I could sign, stating that “This written record is made up of questions and answers provided by the police, and does not conform to what I [He Fengzhu] said; all should be confirmed against the video surveillance record.” But the police said, “What’s the point!” At 6:20pm, I was given the notice to be released on bail pending trial, and I returned home.
Wuxi’s Binhu public security branch has habitually abused its power in the treatment of my family. They forced my 84-year old grandmother Zhou Jingwen to sign a written record and forcefully exacted bail from her. They put my mother in administrative and criminal detention repeatedly, and forced her to post bail. This time, they forced me to post bail. All four generations of my family have been illegally detained many times at the Dongjiang police sub-station, without going through any procedures, and without any department being responsible for what they did to us.
There are just far too many such examples of human rights violations. They are a microcosm of the loopholes in Chinese laws—that there are no clearly set boundaries. The term “other circumstances” is used as a means for the powerful to suppress the vulnerable groups. For instance, Wang Yu’s son Bao Zhuoxuan, Liu Xiaoyuan’s son, and other children of lawyers are prohibited from leaving the country [without any legal basis]. If they can treat human rights lawyers this way, what do you think they can do to ordinary, common people?
Here, I want to clarify the facts for Wang Yu. On April 1, 2014, four generations of my family, including my barely four-month-old daughter, distributed leaflets in the area of Zhongnanhai. My mother Xu Haifeng was criminally detained, and lawyer Wang met with her twice. Apart from the normal transportation fees, she didn’t charge us fees. During the Two Congresses in 2015, my 76-year old grandmother set off firecrackers in Tiananmen to petition, and was criminally detained by Wuxi authorities. At Fan Mugen’s trial [for killing two of the workers who came to forcibly demolish his home], lawyer Wang took the initiative to offer to represent my grandmother. Her integrity and moral character are beyond reproach. I personally do not believe the rumors that she colluded with petitioners. After my 76-year old grandmother was arrested, human rights lawyers Liu Shuqing and Chang Weiping defended her. Their work attitude and persevering spirit are admirable.
Human rights lawyers are the promoters of legal progress—they sacrifice so much to improve it and yet they are still so unknown. For example, former prosecutor Tang Jitian suffered suppression and control because of his work in advancing the legal system and defending people’s rights, and had his lawyer’s license revoked. Even when things got rough, such as in Jiansanjiang or anywhere else, you could always see his presence.
To advance a rule of law, and never again be violated by the powerful, please support human rights lawyers! [i]
I was compelled to set off the firecrackers—there was nothing I could do. On October 11, 2015, I was beaten almost to the point of miscarrying. I called the police and they didn’t come. I realized that this sort of law—a means of repression—is meaningless to the common people. My 84-year paternal grandmother Zhou Jingwen, had her eyes made blind in the black jail set up by Xu Nianping, Party Secretary of the Taihu Neighborhood [Administration], Binhu District, and Ding Xudong, Director of the Binhu public security branch. My 76-year maternal grandmother Wang Jindi was arrested by the Binhu branch of Wuxi Municipal Public Security Bureau (see attachment), and is still detained at the Wuxi No.2 Detention Center. My mother Xu Haifeng was “disappeared” by the local government. With no other path to take, I was compelled to set off firecrackers at Tiananmen Square and to distribute petition leaflets.
Moreover, my mother has known lawyer Wang Yu for a long time. When my family home was demolished without our consent, my mother did the same as teacher Jia Lingmin: she built a yurt to live in. Wang came to see my mother, and she was thoroughly familiar with what my family had suffered. I met Wang when my mother was criminally detained in 2014.
First, I set off firecrackers in order to expose all the devastation that the Wuxi authorities have caused my family: the Binhu District government’s forced demolition of our house, kidnapping and robbery, intentional infliction of harm, unlawful detention, causing my 84-year old paternal grandmother to become blind in a black jail, arresting my 76-year old maternal grandmother, beating me almost to the point of miscarrying, and not sending any police when I reported it. Second, I did it in order to call for the advancement of a rule of law, and to advocate for human rights lawyers who strive to promote that cause!
To China’s Human Rights Lawyers: The Elite of the Elite, Conscience of Lawyers
Wang Qiaoling, wife of Li Heping
If it was said that previously I did my utmost to avoid the circle of human rights lawyers, it would be because of lawyer Li Heping. I really couldn’t stand the police watching the front door of my own home every day; I couldn’t stand my husband being thrown into various police substations when he was working on cases in different locations; and I couldn’t stand my husband being black-hooded, kidnapped, and violently beaten. After the 709 Crackdown, I wanted to understand why these lawyers became human rights lawyers, and how they could choose a path of thankless work, little money, and unavoidable slander in a field that outsiders perceive to be paved with gold.
After being in contact with human rights lawyers for five months, I can sincerely say from the bottom of my heart: this group of human rights lawyers is the elite of the elite, the conscience of lawyers!
All those billionaire plutocrats, those high officials who have finally maneuvered their way to the top, are seen as the elite in the eyes of the world. But the real elite are not them at all! Only those who still possess a shred of conscience can have the opportunity to become the elite. In societies with a rule of law, it is not rare for lawyers to handle cases in accordance with the law. But in an environment which purports to have a rule of law but in fact allows unscrupulous trampling on the law, legally protecting defendants’ fundamental rights is to risk being suspected of “subversion of state power” or “provoking troubles,” or risk being “disappeared.” Therefore, I call human rights lawyers the elite of the elite, not because of their erudition or abilities—of course they are outstanding, but any lawyer can do what they do—but because of their dedication, perseverance, and refusal to give up.
They persist in demanding protection of the fundamental yet deprived rights of each of their clients: the right to meet with a lawyer, the right to communicate, the right to freedom from torture, etc. It is precisely because of this that police, procuratorate, court, and other officials, who, originally at odds with human rights lawyers—including those disgraced officials who locked away Li Zhuang—desperately want to find one as soon as they are implicated in a criminal case. Because they know: only human rights lawyers will indomitably defend their fundamental rights, so that they may receive the maximum legal assistance and personal safety.
Therefore, let our former enemies who are thrown into prison, where money and power are no longer effective, know that human rights lawyers are higher than money and power—they serve only righteousness, and at the same time make people admire them. I feel that they deserve the title of “the elite of the elite.”
Furthermore, I said they are the conscience of all lawyers. Actually, I originally wanted to say “society’s conscience,” but afterwards I thought of lawyers as belonging to society—what is the meaning of this? Lawyers are a civilized society’s last line of defense. Many times, I have heard others relay what one defendant said: “I have inquired with many lawyers, but you are the only ones who are brave enough or are willing to take my case. If you were not here, I would have gone to blow up City Hall or stab people at the entrance of a kindergarten.”
I think back to Yang Jia. If he had met with any of the human rights lawyers from today, I reckon he wouldn’t have gone on a stabbing spree at the police station.
How many Chinese people, after being bullied by authorities, had planned to fight to their death but abandoned this extra-judicial path and turned instead towards seeking legal rights defense only because they met a human rights lawyer? China’s lawyers bear the heavy responsibility of defending civilization and universal values in this era of change. Human rights lawyers happen to be at the vanguard. They have never been heroes; they are just struggling within the entire nation’s numbness to not let themselves become numb. They are the sort of people who, when they see an infant being run over or an elderly person fall, struggle until they finally cannot bear it and stop in their tracks! Nothing more. The help they give is just their own legal knowledge, as they understand it, that’s all. They hold neither guns nor cannons, and have no way to use violence to subvert state power. If they hear mournful cries they stop in their tracks, and finally they lift up the person making those mournful cries. That’s all, nothing more.
Do not call them heroes; they are merely the elite of this society’s elite. They are the last line of defense for a civilized society—the conscience of all lawyers, that is all.
I pay respects to Chinese human rights lawyers. No matter how difficult the environment, fairness and justice are everlasting, compassion and kindness are everlasting!
Wang Qiaoling, wife of Li Heping, lawyer who was disappeared in 709 Crackdown
Written December 10, 2015, on the eve of International Human Rights Day.
Wang Yu and Bao Longjun in my eyes
I met the beautiful and poised Wang Yu and the simple and honest Bao Longjun in June 2013. I hired lawyers Wang and Bao after receiving a call from Suzhou Huqiu People’s Court concerning the suit against Suzhou Jianxin Construction Group’s project manager, Ding Jianxin, who had destroyed Ge Jueping’s house. After receiving a court summons for August 19, 2013, Wang Yu and Liu Xiaoyuan came to Suzhou to represent Jueping’s case for us. In court, lawyer Wang Yu argued forcefully for justice, and was not afraid of the presiding judge who threatened her and repeatedly interrupted her defense. Lawyers Wang Yu and Liu Xiaoyuan’s brilliant defense arguments won the enthusiastic applause of the hundred or more people present observing the case. Ding Jianxin was sentenced to three years in prison, with a three-year reprieve. Currently, an appeal has been submitted to Jiangsu Higher People’s Court. I am requesting that Wang Yu continue to represent us.
Bao Longjun is straightforward and honest. He represented us in many administrative ligation cases and offered a lot of legal assistance to rights defenders in Suzhou. Many rights defenders in Suzhou call him “the wonderful man.” Each time he came to Suzhou, he always said to me, “Sister, let’s not go to a restaurant. Let’s save money by eating at home. I love the braised pork you make.” Bao Longjun, I am waiting for you, hoping for the time you can come to my home and eat my home-cooked braised pork.
Human rights lawyers are the real defenders of the law! Yesterday they pleaded for us—today we petition for them! Human rights lawyers and rights defenders are innocent!
Lu Guoying, Suzhou Citizen
December 6, 2015
Wang Qiaoling: China, what have we done actually?
October 13, 2015
China, what have we done actually?
I don’t know lawyer Wang Yu’s son Bao Zhuoxuan personally, but my son has met him once. They went swimming together.
When I heard from a lawyer friend on October 8 that Zhouxuan was taken away by police in Myanmar, I couldn't believe it. I tried to comfort this friend, saying he should be all right.
But then I kept seeing news reports about it and I knew that it wasn't “all right” but that something had gone wrong.
This child’s parents are both lawyers in China. While the respectful way is to call them “human rights lawyers,” the pejorative way is to call them lawyers who can’t get with the times. People who know them know that these lawyers have conscience when handling criminal cases, and are unwilling to take part in China's judicial charades, be the accomplices to wrongful cases and torture to extract confessions, or “play the jackal to the tiger.” People who don’t know them say that they are extremist, radical troublemakers and shysters.
People who understand the situation all know that if you take those cases that supposedly cannot be solved to a secondary school moot court, even the youngsters would be able to solve them. However, those judges who have received higher education are the ones who cannot solve them. So, lawyers who want to help solve them are lawyers who can’t get with the times.
The wives and children of these lawyers are bound to bear the same consequences together with their lawyer family members. Such is collective punishment. This is actually not so strange. During the Cultural Revolution, which leader among the denounced ones had their children unaffected by collective punishment? So, collective punishment today is not strange.
If nowadays, high ranked cadres to normal citizens are all subjected to collective punishment, whoever causes others to suffer also cannot escape the possibility of facing the same sort of circumstance him/herself one day.
On July 18 this year, at the entrance to the Tianjin Hexi District police station, it was the first time I heard a group of lawyers say: the 16-year old son of lawyer Wang Yu had been taken by public security, was released after 24 hours of detainment, and then was taken away again.
I thought of my 15-year old son immediately. I don't know what we're facing now. I became very worried and kept ringing home but my son didn't pick up the phone. I was thinking, if my son has also been taken away like Bao Zhuoxuan, then being released would be a lucky thing. But If it’s like what happened to the high school student—who was taken away, and when the family saw him again it was only his ashes, along with a written verdict for death penalty—what would a normal citizen like me do?
I felt really depressed. I said to my son, “If you're really taken away, I'd understand why Yang Jia went to the police station to kill”.
Actually, when I heard the news about Bao Zhuoxuan being taken away, I already understood Yang Jia.
Before now, I had always felt that Yang Jia just wasn’t willing to forgive the police who hurt him.
If you really have endured that humiliating harm and the life-threatening torture to extract a confession, you would know how terribly difficult it is for a person to forgive! I have a friend whose husband was wrongfully imprisoned more than a decade ago. She said to this day she still couldn't forgive those people who took away her husband and wronged him.
At that time I didn’t have the experience, so I wasn't touched by that sentiment. Now that I have had this experience, I am aware of all the difficulties in living a life that constantly makes one think of death. I have a friend who has been petitioning for six years. She said what petitioners think about the most is death: how to die, how to die so that people will pay attention to it, and then their cases would receive attention.
Unfortunately, the fact is: if you die—and no matter how you die—the environment that causes people to die still exists, and wrongful imprisonment is still being carried out! As long as Bao Zhuoxuan is in China and his parents are human rights lawyers, he won't be treated normally. This reminds me of a human rights lawyer who once showed me the picture of his young son: he said jokingly, “This is a hostage.” He said he already made preparations for his child to be “disappeared” at any time.
The question for me is not “China, what has happened to you?” but “China, what have we done?”
Two days ago, a 14-year old child committed suicide because he wasn't able to afford the 2,000 yuan tuition fee, and then his mother also jumped into the water to kill herself.
Two days ago, a 16-year old whose parents have both been “disappeared” was put under control—because his parents helped disadvantaged groups to obtain assistance via legal ways!
China, what have we done actually?
People of the whole nation are doing evil!
We were outraged the time when not a single person attempted to help when the little two-year old girl was run over by so many vehicles! We would think that if we were at the spot, we wouldn’t remain indifferent!
We are outraged that when we see an elderly person fall, we do not lend an arm to support him/her anymore just because we’re afraid that it’s another scam. We would think that if we see an elderly person fall, we would lend our arm.
But the reality? A two-year old girl being run over by vehicles doesn’t happen every day. And an elderly person falling down doesn’t happen every day either. But inequality and injustice happen every day!
We count ourselves lucky that we are not petitioners, we have not been “disappeared,” we don’t have family members taken away and then returned in ashes, and we aren’t wrongfully imprisoned.
We count ourselves lucky that we don’t have to worry about tuition fees, we’re still managing during the economic crisis, we ’re still safe even having had so much poisonous and harmful foodstuff, we don’t have lung disease even though we’re surrounded by smog.
But we don’t have the sense of “others” anymore. We only have the sense of ourselves. We are completely, thoroughly ingrained with the concept that “as long as we’re doing fine, everything is good.” This is our current condition. This is the condition of Chinese people harming each other. I think I should put it this way: it is called “the whole nation is committing evil” model. And I’m right in the middle of it!
When reading about that kid who committed suicide because of the 2,000- school fees, I thought, what can we do? I could offer assistance to such a kid. I’m sure I could find a friend who could offer assistance to another kid, and my friend surely could find another friend to offer assistance to a third kid.
When reading about Bao Zhuoxuan, what can I do? I don’t have any way make the unchecked public power stop doing illegal deeds to his parents, but I can write a letter to China’s top leader and to the leader of the Ministry of Public Security, requesting them to think from another person’s perspective and return justice to the kid!
Bao Zhuoxuan ought to be free. He is entitled to the rights stipulated by the laws of the People’s Republic of China.
China, please return freedom to this kid!
Wang Qiaoling, wife of lawyer Li Heping in the July 9 event
P.S. If you know a kid who cannot go to school for lack of 2,000 yuan and you are not able to help him/her, please call me at the following number to tell me. We will come up with a way to help. Thank you!
My number: 13911043194
Lawyer Xie Yuandong’s nephew: Winter has come, is spring far behind?
November 9, 2015
In the Four Months Since My Uncle Went Missing
Winter has arrived, it’s much colder now. November 10: it will have been four months since my uncle was forcibly disappeared. During this time, his lawyer went to Tianjin three times to apply to meet him but the public security departments twice made the decision to deny a meeting on the grounds that my uncle’s case is one of “suspected incitement to subvert state power.” As far as we ordinary people are concerned, this charge is much too grand! How would my uncle have such great ability? He only worked for a few months as a lawyer trainee and was busy all the time doing what he needed to do to in preparation for entering the profession: professional training, case file organizing, in person interviews, etc. He was so busy that he only took quick breaks to be with his family, and couldn’t even attend to the disadvantaged groups that he most wanted to help. So, out of the blue, to be charged with this crime—this is simply a fantasy story, totally baseless!!! And when my family went to Tianjin to give my uncle some warm clothing, they also met with all kinds of obstacles put out by the people handling the case, and there has been no response to letters that we sent my uncle. This made us even more anxious and distressed. I think in our home, we are getting the most profound understanding and experience of the phrase: “a day drags like a year.”
Our whole family spends all day worrying not only about whether or not our missing uncle has enough to eat and clothing to keep warm, but also if he will be subjected to torture for extracting a confession from him. We also worry about my aged grandmother; she seems to be in a daze, and often stares blankly at my uncle’s books. Recently, she constantly says she dreams about meeting my uncle—and that she sees that he has lost a lot of weight, his face is sallow, and he sits curled up in a corner from the cold, etc. . . . And she would start wailing as she talks. But I can’t find any words to comfort this old lady—who worries daily and misses her son. For her, color and energy have drained from everything when she’s not able to see her son. When will this cold winter end?
During this time my cousin grew up and became much more mature. At his age, he should care only about playing. But he is no longer naughty. After he finishes his homework and gets through reviewing his textbooks, he likes to lie on the balcony and watch the road my uncle used to take to come home. My poor cousin never says that he misses his Dad or wants to find him—in case my aunt would worry about him. Also, he continuously comforts his Mom by saying: “Dad will be fine. How could a person as good as Dad do anything bad? I don’t believe it.” But he’s always looking outside, and secretly cries. One time, the school assigned a composition entitled “Father,” my cousin wrote and wrote but finally couldn’t control himself and burst out crying. Uncle, you’ve never left him for such a long time before! Why does this carefree youngster need to bear this burden that he shouldn’t bear? Uncle, come back soon, we need you! In this time of widespread advocacy to rule the country in accordance with the law I believe you can definitely be cleared of this unjust accusation!
Chen Taihe: Please treat the detained lawyers well, for the sake of the society’s peace and stability
August 27, 2015
“Alone a stranger in a strange land, I miss my family especially ever more at times of festivity.” In Chinese tradition, the Mid-Autumn Festival is second only to Spring Festival as the most important time for joyous gatherings of the whole family. Every Chinese is bound to feel the blessings of family ties that this festival brings us. Unfortunately, it’s impossible for many of the lawyers and other citizens who have been taken away on July 10 to be home for their Mid-Autumn Festival. They are held in detention centers or are under “residential surveillance” as lonesome prisoners. As one of the 710 detained lawyers, I know that every day in detention I longed for freedom and wished I could be outside, to be scorched by heat, drenched by rain, whipped by winds, struck by thunder, and shocked by lightning—what can such danger amount to compared with freedom? Every day I missed my family, especially my young son.
I’m very lucky; all of this sadness and suffering is now in the past. Now free, I sit under the warm and soft reading lamp in my home to write this article. When I think of these lawyer friends I often worry about them. Yesterday, I saw an interview with one lawyer that made me extremely anxious. He spoke about how all of his teeth had become loose after being abused, how he had endured unendurable pain from electric shocks to the face, and how he was tortured with his hands tied behind his back. Once again I am thankful for my good fortune, because from the time I was detained on July 12 until I was released on August 22, not a single one of the 30 Guilin public security special task force officers responsible for interrogating me had verbally abused, tortured, or ill-treated me. Even though they treated me really ferociously, and wanted to nail me with an ironclad case, making me feel that they wanted me dead, at least they had the decency of not engaging in primitive, elemental, base physical torture and destruction.
Also, as I was treated kindly, after I was released I could always continue my life and work in a peaceful state of mind. Therefore, I hereby urge, for the peaceful stability and healthy development of Chinese society, please treat all of the detained lawyers and citizens kindly. I know from my experience: They need their families to know the exact location of where they are in custody; they need their families to deposit money for them and send them clothes. Because without money to buy new lunch-boxes, spoons, cups, and toothbrushes, they can only use the old things left behind by drug dealers, murderers, rapists, and so on. Prison food is harder to swallow than pig swill. There is simply no way these lawyers and citizens can adapt. They need to listen to the voices of their families. Even with just one greeting, they will be able to feel the warmth of society. If they have young children, they will miss them terribly. They need to be looked after by the disciplinary officers, in order to avoid being threatened, persecuted, and abused by the jailers and prison bullies, and in order to avoid enforced labor, coercion, maltreatment, and suffering within the cage. During the questioning, please give them a comfortable chair, because the iron chairs used for interrogation for violent crimes are extremely uncomfortable. During questioning, please give them mineral water, drinks, snacks, and cigarettes, so that they can feel that they have individual care and help within that severe environment. They need to wash in hot water, eat vegetables, and drink milk. They need to see their lawyers and must have contact with the outside world. They need to read books. And during those long days in prison, without any friends to converse with, they must find spiritual sustenance. Please make every single investigator act in this way from the start: treat them with tenderness. Do not force them into becoming real enemies.
Perhaps, just as my investigators said to me: The party state is so big and strong—why should it fear these minuscule enemies, these insignificant drops of water? I said: Even so, but when an avalanche hits, not a single snowflake would feel itself is personally responsible for it. In fact, it is precisely these countless snowflakes that have created a dangerous mound of snow that would cause an avalanche that not a single person would be fortunate enough to survive. Our society does not need mutually hostile enemies, does not need unjust snow falling in July, and does not need an avalanche that ends in mutual destruction.
On the 14th day of the 8th month of 2015, in the lunar calendar, in my Guilin home.
Lawyer Li Heping's wife: You have to have a happy Mid-Autumn Festival!—To the families of the “709 Incident”
September 27, 2015
A stranger called me yesterday and asked how my Mid-Autumn Festival was. She repeatedly said that she once received help from lawyer Li Heping, and asked what she could do for us. At last she said, although Li Heping wasn't home, she still wanted to wish us a happy Mid-Autumn Festival. I was very touched, and said, “We have to have a happy Mid-Autumn Festival!”
I never thought about the fact that even if Heping could come back for this Mid-Autumn Festival, it still doesn't mean that he could come back for every Mid-Autumn Festival. In the current China, some people can go home for Mid-Autumn Festival, and some definitely cannot (leaders' monitoring does not count). Given such a situation, it isn't important anymore where one spends Mid-Autumn Festival, and whether one can go home for it. Rather, what kind of person you are is the key!
A few days ago I met with a family member of one of the “709 Incident” victims. That whole family is very sad. The parents are ill and the children young and fragile. This family member said to me, “Sister, I feel so weak. I don't know how long I will have to endure this, I don't know if I am able to endure this.” I was very sad too.
But I know if we don't have any news of our detained family members, the best thing we, on the outside, can do for them is to “Live well. Live very well. Live especially well.” Therefore, please be sure to have a happy Mid-Autumn Festival. I’m not contriving some “happiness” to comfort everyone. Rather, we do really have the reason to be happy. If you don't believe it—I'm going to explain to you.
First, why did our loved ones get “disappeared”? To put it bluntly, it was because, in the course of their practice as lawyers, they spoke the “truth” and emphasized handling cases in accordance with the law; they themselves set the example for doing this and urged the judicial authorities to do the same. They have not been “shuanggui-ed” [disciplined by the Party outside of the judicial process]—thank god they are common people and weren’t qualified to be “shuanggui-ed.” As their families, we don’t feel ashamed, we feel, instead, proud. If today our families were disappeared for being corrupt—that would really be a tragedy. Why? It's because that kind of family, even before you are taken in, you live every day by lies, and after you’re taken in, all the family members live every day in shame—and that’s hardship. This is the first reason why we should be happy.
Second, only after our loved ones have been disappeared did we start to truly know them. That is what we call, “true feelings are revealed in tough times.” We never expected. We had thought our friends would distance themselves from us—but in fact we realized they are all trying to comfort us, saying “the children's dad is a good person; nothing should happen to him! If you're going to petition, we'll help take care of your children.” Well, I have already petitioned. But I didn’t have a chance to run to the U.S. to block President Xi's vehicle. I thank all my friends for their support.
Moreover, there are always strangers who call to ask after us or come to visit. They always say, “Lawyer Li is someone we respect and admire.” I’ve come to think, over the past two years, the influential and powerful people in China, when they’ve got detained—I’m just guessing—the numerous people who had helped them get promotions in officialdom in the past, those people, who’d do anything to get near them in the past, can’t get far enough away from them now.
Also, no matter how mighty they had been in the past, when they got taken away by police, nobody would call their family and say, “I respect this person who has been taken away”.
Therefore, families, you should be happy! Because you must have received quite a number of supportive calls.
Third, no matter how tough my situation is, I know some people whose lives are tougher. A friend of mine got cancer when she was nine. Doctors said it was incurable. Yet she didn’t give up, and she got better. The illness recurred when she was 15-16 years old. Doctors said it was incurable. She still didn’t give up, and again she got better. When she was around 30, it came back again. Doctors still said the illness should have already been incurable 20 years ago, yet she still believed she would be well again. She went to university, married and had a child, living a good life. Whenever I think of her, I always feel what is happening to us is not a big deal. Aren’t we still doing pretty well? If it happens that we get sick, it is even more important to be happy! It is because a happy mindset is the best medicine. So you must be happy at Mid-Autumn Festival!
If I am to continue with this, I can write a lot. We have once taken a piece of plain white paper to write down everything in our lives that we should be grateful for and happy about. Who says difficult times inevitably bring suffering? Whenever I think of my children’s father, I tell my son, “Nobody is as lucky as you! In the future, you won’t be ‘the second generation of an official, of the rich, of the corrupt, of the Red, of the military, of the celebrity.’ You’re the second generation of a rights defense lawyer.” What can children inherit from their fathers? It is the perseverance with which their fathers seek fairness and justice in difficult situations; it is their unwavering sympathy and kindness towards the poor and the underprivileged common people.
Therefore, I am wishing all the families of those involved in the “709 Incident” a Happy Mid-Autumn Festival, and you must have a happy one! I also wish the members of the “709” special investigation team, whom I haven’t met, a Happy Mid-Autumn Festival! I think some of you must not be able to go home for the festival, but I wish you a happy one too!
I am sincerely wishing, that the things—that caused sadness—that happened to us, the families of the “709 Incident,” will never happen to your very families!
Wishing you a Happy Mid-Autumn Festival! And you have to be happy!
Lawyer Li Heping's wife
September 27, 2015 Morning, home
My husband Li Heping, Part 7
August 11, 2015
Last night, I received a text message from my son: “Mom, when do I come back?” I had promised to pick him up, but because of what happened to lawyer Chunfu [Li Heping’s younger brother], I was delayed again. I couldn’t stop my tears from falling. At that moment, I didn’t know how to reply to this message, because I’d already had to explain so many times. If this child’s father had actually killed someone, sold drugs, or committed arson, I could’ve calmly told my son: your father has done something wrong, but because we love him, we will stand by him. And no matter what, we will accept him.
The problem now is that because his father demanded the right of a lawyer to review case files as provided by the laws of the People’s Republic of China, and because his father demanded the right of a suspect to not be tortured into confession during the criminal investigation period as provided by the laws of the People’s Republic of China, he has been taken away by public security organs. Now, in a situation where even the charges against him have yet to be disclosed and his family is being tormented, what I am to tell my son, in fact, is this: Do not repay evil with evil; overcome evil with good.
Is that right? Heping will eventually come out, right? Chunfu will also eventually come out, right? The most difficult thing isn’t whether they will come out—the most difficult thing is, after experiencing all this, to make myself not harbor any hatred.
I remember when our house was searched those plainclothes officers said that, after the case is over, anything that’s not related to the case would be returned. And yet they didn’t give me an inventory of items taken. I lent the cardboard boxes to the police officers out of trust, because otherwise should every citizen not cooperate when police officers are enforcing the law? But even now, the items I lent them have yet to be returned. I waited 48 hours, thinking that I would receive an official notice. But in the end, I had to embark on a journey searching for my husband, accompanied by relatives and lawyers.
If after terrorist activities, there are still people who claim responsibility for those activities, then aren’t we—who have been taught since childhood to love our country and her law enforcement agencies—supposed to raise our voice for the people who have been taken away in the name of public security, and say it was X who took them away?
So, the hardest thing is not whether or not Li Heping can be released. The hardest thing is to believe that, after experiencing all of this, God wants me to forgive them. Only in this moment would you know just how hard it is to love and forgive!!!...
I hope every friend who reads this article will help me, pray for me before God, even if only to say this one sentence: Don’t let fear and hatred occupy my heart; let me still learn from God’s love even when I’m treated unlawfully!
Source (CH): http://bit.ly/1MlRNi3
My husband Li Heping, Part 6—Account of my first criminal summons
August 6, 2015
In the course of my search for my husband and Chunfu [Li Heping’s younger brother] being taken away, I’ve come to a spot I’ve never imagined before. After calls from the Beijing Public Security Bureau for two consecutive days asking me to have a talk about my writings online, and I refused to comply, an extremely disturbing drama took place today.
First of all, I am really scared. After Heping was taken away and dropped out of reach, I don’t believe what the police say. Therefore, when they came knocking at the door today saying they came with proper legal procedures, I couldn’t believe them. There is no gap under my door, so they couldn’t slip the documents through. I told the people outside my door that I would lower a basket from my balcony to bring the papers up and that once I signed, I’d go with them. But they refused. A standstill lasted for two hours. Not knowing what to do, I kept calling 110, for complaint, for the police, and I called the government’s public line. At 2 o’clock in the afternoon, what they had been calling an administrative summons in the morning became a criminal summons. I don’t know where the police found this person, who opened the lock on my door and came in. I finally saw their criminal summons, signed by the Hexi Branch of the Tianjin Public Security Bureau. The person who showed me his ID was a young guy from the Tianjin Public Security Bureau. Afterwards, a policewoman from the area also showed her ID. Only the policeman in charge refused to show his. He only said he was from the Beijing Public Security Bureau, assisting Tianjin police’s work.
We went to Boxing Road police substation and into the interrogation room. Later, I was called out of the room so that they could take my fingerprints, my height, and my picture. The young guy who was doing all this asked what category my information should go under. The policeman in charge said: “Other.”
After the data collection, interrogation started at 2:30 p.m., regarding a piece on Boxun about searching for Li Heping. The interrogator asked if I was the one who wrote it. I refused to answer. He asked whether the complaint against Xinhua was written by me. I said I commissioned a lawyer to write it and thanked him for his concern about civil cases. He said he didn’t deal with civil cases but was asking about it because it was posted on Boxun—a website the authorities consider to be a hostile force. It’s a pity I really don’t know where Boxun is.
Anyways, the main point was that if my writings were posted on Boxun again, they would use the same method to summons me. They also asked me to let my lawyer know that I have to be careful about being used by people with ulterior motives if Boxun shares my stuff again. Finally, I insisted on asking the policeman who interrogated me to show his ID. He said there was already someone from Tianjin Public Security Bureau who showed me his ID, so he wouldn’t do that. I said: it’s you who are interrogating me, not the person from Tianjin Public Security Bureau. If I were more experienced, next time I’d only talk to the person who showed me his ID. He just wouldn’t show me his ID. So I refused to sign the interrogation record. In the end, he still didn’t show it to me. At 7:08 p.m., they wanted me to sign the summons. I asked the policeman from Tianjin Public Security Bureau whether I could leave after signing that. He said yes. I left the room after I signed but did not dare leave the police station immediately. I sat on a chair in the lobby more than half of an hour before I left. To be honest, I felt I could trust the one who showed his ID more. The other one who refused to show me his, I just felt he was up to no good and wanted to stay far away from him.
Source (CH): https://plus.google.com/+GuestsZhen/posts/iZ7hKA9932x
Quanzhang, We’re Waiting for You to Come Home —Excerpts
Wang Quanzhang’s wife
August 6, 2015
“If I don't do this, and if nobody does it, then what would happen to the people who need help?”—Wang Quangzhang
. . .
As the wife of a human rights lawyer, I worry about your safety constantly. Every time I see you drag your tired body home after rushing around day and night—everything my eyes take in hurts my heart. And you are often in danger of being stalked, threatened, beaten, and even detained. That’s why I’d urged you to change your profession, or just handle commercial cases. Yet you calmly said, “If I don't do this, and if nobody does it, then what would happen to the people who need help? I am protecting the rights of people in accordance with the law. In case something bad happens, I just have to face it bravely—this is also what you often encourage me to do.” Considering what is happening now, I think I’m really not handling things well: I am overwhelmed by worries and fears every day. I'm worried about how our son, not yet three—who wants to see his dad every day but can’t see him for a long time—will be emotionally traumatized. I'm afraid that your mom, whose health is just improving a bit, won’t be able to handle this blow. Above all, I'm worried about your safety. I don't know what they will do to you. Has the injury on your head healed? Don't worry. I still believe everything will be fine. Gradually, I will myself grow and face everything bravely.
Although I fought with you in the past, and hoped you would quit this dangerous profession, I have long since been touched by your character. You have widened my horizons so much and made me live a different life. I have no regrets at all! Don't you worry, I will take good care of our child, comfort you dad and mom. We all wait for you to come home!
Source (CH): http://bit.ly/1HvZ0pd
My husband Li Heping, Part 5—Lawyer Li Chunfu, Heping’s Younger Brother
August 4, 2015
Actually, out of the Li brothers, Li Heping is not the most inspiring one; it is Li Chunfu. Heping’s ancestral home can be described as poverty-stricken. When Li Heping and I were married there, the marital bed had no mattress; it was straw covered in a coarse cotton sheet. The year when Heping entered university, Chunfu was going into 9th grade. But the family could not afford to send two people to school at the same time. Chunfu, with his good grades, was the one who was sacrificed. I remember my mother-in-law saying that Chunfu lay in bed for several days. When he finally accepted reality, he decided to head South to find work so that he could help support the family and his older brother, Heping.
In work, Chunfu had his fill of a rough time. He slept in a cemetery, went hungry, was knifed in the stomach by someone, and had his pay docked or was owed wages. He said in the factory, when there were demonstrations by technicians, he never took his eyes off what was being shown and always thought he wanted to be able to do it. And then, he became the head of the technical group. He finally earned 10,000 yuan—that was in 1998. He wanted to return to his hometown to build a house, but his older brother told him: don’t build a house; use the money to do self-study; and take the qualifying exams to become a lawyer.
Chunfu was tempted. He used all of his savings and started his life’s big adventure in 1999. He went to Zhengzhou, Henan’s provincial capital, and rented a small room next to Zhengzhou University and began self-studying for the exams. It was a six-year ordeal, with countless defeats and economic pressure and the stress of the exams. No one thought he could persevere. On the basis of his perseverance through those six years, we all felt that we were far from being his equal. Therefore, the most visible result of his gaining a lawyer’s qualifications and getting through the difficulties of self-study was—he was losing his hair faster than he aged. At the age of 30, the hair on the top of his head was already thinning. I remember that Chunfu officially became a lawyer in 2005, and he treasures every work opportunity. One time I explained to my son: if one day we really don’t have the means for you to go to school, do not give up; you can study on your own—your uncle is a ready-made model right before our eyes!
Source (CH): http://www.boxun.com/news/gb/china/2015/08/201508041244.shtml
My Husband Li Heping, Part 4—Two Families’ Pillars Have Been Taken Away
August 4, 2015
I could not have imagined that while looking for Li Heping, his younger brother Li Chunfu, who is also a lawyer, was taken away by the Tianjin Municipal Security Bureau Hexi Branch in the evening of August 1. At the same time, his home was also searched, and his computer, files, books, and other items were taken away.
I was very shocked by this news, without understanding why lawyer Li Chunfu, who has nothing to do with the cases that Li Heping handled, would be taken away at this time. Perhaps it’s just because he’s Heping’s brother? Chunfu’s law firm handles more civil cases. I really can’t fathom why even he would be taken away.
Li Chunfu’s five-year-old son—the little guy I often call “Little Snowball”—made a great show of saying, “Dad was taken away in handcuffs.” Terrified, Little Snowball’s mother still remembered to comfort her boy by saying, “That was just a toy.” But that wasn’t a toy!
Fortunately, Snowball’s older brother wasn’t there. Now, the pillars of the two families have been taken by the police—leaving two housewives, each taking care of two young children. What will tomorrow be like?
I drove home after consoling lawyer Chunfu’s family. The closer I got to my neighborhood the more nervous I got. So I just pulled over and stopped on the side of the road. If someone was to call and tell me that there was a water leakage in my home kitchen (lawyer Chunfu was taken away when he went home after being told that there was a water leakage in his home kitchen and that he should go home to have a look), I would just dump my identity card and mobile phone now and run. The key is: where should I run to? After thinking for a long time, I felt that I had nowhere to go: I couldn’t bring troubles to my relatives and I couldn’t stay in a hotel.
I was just afraid to go home. I reclined the seat and lay on it. Cars were whizzing by me, with the sounds of people talking and laughing. If this happened in the past, it would have been a scary thing: a woman lying in a car on a road in the middle of nowhere near midnight.
But now, as I looked at the darkness around me, and the strangers and howling vehicles, I actually felt far safer than in a home that had been searched. But I needed to know what was happening with Chunfu and needed to charge my mobile phone. I couldn’t miss any news that might be coming in. I made an effort to drive home, parked in the basement, and took the elevator, imagining that if a bunch of people were already waiting when I arrived on the third floor, I would just be caught like a turtle in a jar. Why compare myself to a turtle? Self-mockery in misery, I suppose.
The elevator doors opened—there was nobody. I gave a sigh of relief. When I was opening the door with my key, I was thinking if someone would already be waiting inside. The door opened—the lights were on but no one was there. I had forgotten to turn off the lights when I went out. I let out a bitter laugh. I am like a scared animal. What in the end did I do? What law did I break? In fact, I am implicated because I’m the family of Li Heping. I am scared of being implicated.
Source (CH): http://xgmyd.com/archives/20649 (Originally published by Boxun)
My Husband Li Heping, Part 3—A Futile Search: My Husband Li Heping
July 25, 2015
Before, I always used to complain that the days passed by too quickly. But from July 10 onwards, every minute has been a torment. After the search of my home had finished, I thought that however excruciating it might be, it wouldn’t exceed 48 hours. After waiting through this period, I asked a lawyer to meet with Heping. What transpired far exceeded what I had anticipated. Even I, a family member and a university graduate in law, feel that the legal knowledge I possess is entirely useless.
I was anxious—the best I could do was to go to Tianjin to look for Heping. The first time I went to Tianjin, I wasn’t even able to get through the door to the criminal police at the Public Security Bureau. Going to the detention center to look for him also yielded nothing.
The second time was on the eighth day of Heping’s disappearance. Because I had lawyers with me, I finally got into the legal office of the Public Security Sub-bureau. We were told that he wasn’t in their Sub-bureau, and that we should go to the narcotics control brigade to have a look. Fortunately, at the narcotics control brigade, we came across a particularly tall and stout police officer, who, relatively politely, took all of us into a reception room and closed the door. I suddenly, despite myself, became tense: Was this to catch the lawyers? I’d better prepare additional copies of powers of attorney.
Fortunately, that police officer came in again after a few minutes and took us upstairs. The people upstairs who greeted us were a bit baffled when they heard that we were sent there by the Public Security Sub-bureau. They checked on their computer system and couldn’t locate anyone named Li Heping. We brought along our last traces of hope as we arrived at the Detention Center of the Hexi Sub-bureau. The reception there looked so grand with the flight of stairs leading up to it, as though it were the great hall of some ancient dynasty where its subjects had to bow. I know many government buildings with such a setting. With a forced smile and hope, I came to the inquiry desk. When the words “Li*ping” appeared on the computer screen, I was so excited that I felt as if my heart was jumping out. The worker asked, “Is that a woman?” “Nope, a man,” I said promptly. The worker said briskly, “Then nope. There's just a Li Yuping here.” The disappointment was overwhelming. I thought I located his whereabouts. But obviously still not.
If I could find my husband by looking into every single detention center, I am willing to do that. However, the lawyer says there exists a type of secret residential surveillance. How am I supposed to find such a secret space?
Source (CH): http://bit.ly/1D3o5Ne
My husband Li Heping, Part 2—I Have No Choice But to Send the Children Away
July 24, 2015
After Heping was taken away by police officers without any proper procedure, we kept waiting for a detention notice to be served. And then after 48 hours, we started to actively search for him. But the only response we got was, “I don’t know.” Afterwards, when I heard that a child of lawyers was taken away by the police, I could no longer remain calm.
When I went to go see my children off at the station, I couldn’t control my tears. My son didn’t want to leave. But I told him: if you stay in Beijing, I would have to leave your sister with you when I go out because I can’t take your sister with me. You and your sister are both minors. If bad people come, you can call 110 for help. But if the police come to take you away when I’m not home, 110 won’t help you. At least if you left Beijing, you would have grownups around you at our ancestral home. But everything I told him was to give myself some comfort too.
Only when the children had left did I realize I was so scared that I couldn’t sleep. When the light is on, I can’t sleep. When I sleep, I’ll remember that a lawyer was subdued in bed after his home was broken into in the middle of the night. And I thought I’d better wear pajamas instead of a nightgown, because I don’t know when the police come to grab women whether they would send women officers. Rhythmic sounds of footsteps from outside the door would make my heart jump to my throat. And I couldn’t sleep even after the footsteps faded. In the morning, a light knocking on door would make my heart clench in fear. The knocking stopped after a while. But I was still worried: did someone come inside already?
I’m wondering: I didn’t commit murder or arson, why is it that when I see a tall, burly man I would instinctively suspect that he is a police officer who is coming to take me and my children away? Where is this terror of mine coming from?
Source (CH): http://bit.ly/1ImNpcS
Kao La’s Friends
July 24, 2015
Kao La (pen name of Zhao Wei) is a 24 years-old young woman, born in 1991. She graduated from Jiangxi Normal University Journalism School, and has been involved in public interest activities since her university years. Since October 2014, she has been working as the famous human rights lawyer Li Heping’s assistant, doing legal rights defense work, and participating in rights defense activities like the “Caravan to Overturn Injustice” (平冤大蓬车) in March 2015, and “Action in Front of the Jiangxi High People’s Court o Support Lawyers’ Right to Read Case Documents” (江西高院门口律师捍卫阅卷权).
On July 10, 215, Kao La’s home was searched and she was taken away by Beijing police officers. To this date, no detention notice has been served. We don’t even know where she is being held, and so her family members are unable to visit her.
The Kao La we know is uprights, kind, and hardworking. Her aim is to be a lawyer, so that she can help vulnerable groups unable to get equal treatment in the judicial system. She was planning to take the Judicial Examination in September, but she has been missing for 14 days now.
Kao La’s parents and friends are all extremely worried about her, worried about the mental and physical abuse and torment such a young girl is suffering. We hope the persons responsible for taking Kao La away will give us a response. If Kao La has committed any crime, please make it public in accordance with the law and let her exercise her right to find a lawyer. If she hasn’t committed any crimes, please release her as soon as possible. We miss our friend – Kao La.
Kao La’s friends
Source (CH): http://bit.ly/1HU72fd
My Husband Li Heping, Part 1—Excerpts
July 21, 2015
Heping is not a big man, just 164cm tall. Because he worked so hard, his hair turned half white a decade ago. He continued dyeing his hair until six months ago, when he jokingly said, “truth starts at the beginning” [“beginning” is “head” in Chinese].
Heping, in my opinion, is a thinking type of person. Because he doesn’t talk much, most of his time he spends reading, thinking. . . .
Heping's dedication to his work, perseverance, and fearlessness of “inconvenience” has left a deep impression on me. . . .
On many occasions, neighbors have come to find him for consultation when they discovered he was a lawyer. Even if it happened during our family dinner, he would put down his bowl to speak with them. He is even more polite with security guards, garbage pickers, and the like. Ten years ago, an old man came all the way to Beijing to seek a lawyer's help after his contracted forestland was forcibly occupied, and he found Heping. He had been living a pitiful life under a bridge. After the consultation, Heping gave him 1,000 yuan. His colleagues at the law firm joked with him, saying it wouldn’t be rare for a 20-year-old to do this, but for someone in his 30s, it’s just weird.
Actually, I don't think Heping doing this is weird at all.
Source (CH): http://bit.ly/1RZbhxX
“What Can You Do When Facing Terror”—Excerpts
July 20, 2015
Corrupt officials and privileged people will not believe in the law, and won’t care whether lawyers exist. Because they live as the organization’s people, they will die as the organization’s ghosts. But the average citizen wants this society to have order and rules. Perhaps previously, facing economic disputes, divorces, or criminal charges, etc., people might have tried to use their connections or find powerful backers to help them. But now, most people’s first thought is to seek help from lawyers. This is social progress—citizens’ awakening!
I don’t know when being a lawyer became a high-risk occupation. Of my three lawyers, two were arrested: Zhu Jiuhu has since been released but Xu Zhiyong is still in prison. The third, Zhang Xingshui, has become a Buddhist. Now, seeing lawyer Yang Jinzhu’s statement as he went to Beijing [to represent detained lawyer Zhou Shifeng], I’m really worried about Yang himself being detained. So I want to issue this statement: I won’t sponsor Yang Jinzhu but I will sponsor Yang Jinzhu’s defense lawyer. Whoever ends up representing Yang, I will provide that person with RMB 100,000 of assistance, as an expression of where I stand. Though the heroic acts of lawyers—who are coming forth one after another—fill us with worries and despair, they also make people let out a cry for help: after all, in them, you can still see expressions of conscience in society. But when facing terror, what can we the people do? Opening our eyes wide with horror and letting out a cry are not only animal instincts. They are also remnants of conscience among modern people. Even more than that, they constitute the bottom line of humanity’s pursuit of survival—freedom from terror!
Editor's note: Sun Dawu, chairman of the Dawu Agricultural and Pastoral Group in Hebei Province, was convicted in 2003 of illegally accepting deposits from rural residents, after he gave a speech at Peking University calling for greater rights for China’s peasants. He spent more than five months in custody and was given a three-year suspended prison sentence.
Statement by Fan Mugen’s Family on Lawyer Wang Yu
Fan Yonghai (Fan Mugen’s son) and Gu Panzhen (Fan Mugen’s wife)
July 18, 2015
We hereby state:
Lawyer Wang Yu represented Fan Mugen—my [Fan Yonghai’s] father and my [Gu Panzhen’s] husband—in his defense. Wang Yu held onto principles, was not afraid of pressure, and conducted the defense in accordance with the law. The lawyers never instructed me (or my family) to do anything in violation of the law. My father Fan Mugen was sentenced to eight years in the first-instance trial, and my whole family is grateful to Wang Yu’s hard work.
Source (CH): http://xgmyd.com/archives/20096 | 新公民运动
Editor's note: Fan Mugen, a retired People's Liberation Army officer, was sentenced to eight years in prison for attacking a demolition gang who came to raze his home and beat and severely wounded his wife and son. Fan was tried on February 4, 2015 at the Suzhou Intermediate Court and convicted of inflicting "intentional harm" on others.
Statement by Wang Qingying’s Family on Lawyer Sui Muqing
Zeng Jieshan (Wang Qingying’s wife) and Wang Hongyi (Wang Qingying’s son)
July 18, 2015
We hereby state:
When acting as the defense counsel for my husband, Wang Qingying, who (along with Tang Jingling and Yuan Chaoyang) was accused of “inciting subversion of state power,” lawyer Sui Muqing was faithful to judicial justice, not afraid of power, and courageous in his fight for Wang’s lawful rights and interests. Sui Muqing also exposed many unlawful acts of abuse Wang suffered during his detention, and also boldly called for basic human rights to be afforded to him.
During the June 19  trial in the Guangzhou Intermediate People's Court, when family members were illegally stopped at the entrance of the courthouse and prevented from attending the trial, Sui Muqing argued vigorously in court for the family’s right to attend the trial. As a result, Tang Jingling’s wife and I were permitted into the courtroom. During the trial, Sui Muqing maintained his calm. It was only the court’s procedural violations in forcing the trial to go forward that compelled us to terminate the lawyer-client relationship. Throughout the case, from investigation to trial, Sui Muqing always asked us to comply with the law and not do anything unlawful. Our whole family is grateful for all the help Sui Muqing has provided to Wang Qingying.
Source (CH): http://xgmyd.com/archives/20059 | 新公民运动
Editor's note: Wang Qingying, a citizen activist and former teacher at Guangdong University of Technology, was criminally detained on May 16, 2014 for "picking quarrels and provoking troubles." When he was formally arrested on June 20, 2014, the charge was changed to “inciting subversion of state power.” He is reported to be in deteriorating health after suffering numerous beatings and other forms of physical abuse in detention.
Rights Defense Lawyer Wang Quanzhang’s Letter to His Parents Written before His Detention
July 15, 2015
Dear Father and Mother:
I, your unfilial son, kowtow to you both.
Not only am I unable to let you live your later years in peace, or provide Mother the means to obtain comprehensive traditional medicine treatment, I have brought you to Beijing, and brought upon you a huge disaster.
Perhaps you know what happened to us—especially what happened to me—through official channels.
No matter how despicable and ridiculous we appear to be in the portrayal by the manipulated media, Mother, Father, please believe your son, and please believe your son’s friends. (See full letter.)