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.
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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!
[i] Links to references: October 27, 2015, female petitioner He Fengzhu from Wuxi City, Jiangsu Province, went to Beijing Tiananmen Square to set off firecrackers to petition