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“I Have Done Too Little—Final Statement at Trial”

January 23, 2014

Hou Xin read her statement to the court during her trial at the Beijing Municipal Haidian District Court on January 23. She is charged with “gathering a crowd to disrupt order in a public place,” in connection with her observing and taking photographs of a street action on March 31, 2013, in Xidan in Beijing, during which activists unfurled banners calling for disclosure of official assets.


I Have Done Too Little—Final Statement at Trial

Hou Xin

I stand here today on trial.  In the last 11 months, I have experienced things that I had never imagined I would experience in my life, until today. I have repeatedly asked myself: Have I really committed a crime? Yes, I owe my family so much, and I have failed as a daughter and a wife.  My actions on March 31 [2013] in Xidan were indeed not approved by public security organs in advance, and this is all wrong. But what I want to say is: I am not guilty! The public security organs, prosecutorial organs, and court have sincerely advised me many times to admit guilt; so have my relatives, friends, and many others. I know that it might be to my own best advantage if I admitted guilt. But if, in our country, it is a crime to demand that government officials perform their basic duties and disclose their assets, then this era we live in is an era of absurdity. Then, every one of us, whether we are high-ranking officials in exalted positions, or common people who toil to make ends meet, will be nailed to history’s pillory.  Centuries and millennia later,  our descendants will ridicule and mock us, ridicule this era of ours, and mock this people, which, like a herd of pigs, cannot tell right from wrong and has placed itself outside of modern civilization!

Yes, I am fearful, and even more so standing here today. I am fearful of imprisonment and of whether I, physically weakened after two major illnesses, would live to see the day I walk out of prison once placed inside. But I am more fearful of betraying my conscience and muddling aimlessly through life.Between a life not worth living and death, I would rather choose death.

Take a look and see how far China—my beloved motherland which independently resisted fascism, established Asia’s first republic, and has a four-thousand-year history of civilization—has fallen. The great majority of people view fleeing to other places as something to be proud of, including those officials working in exalted positions at the imperial court who teach us to love the Party. The cruel and the wicked are in power and corruption is rampant.  Pick out a corrupt official at random and his or her vices would stun the whole world. Such is the tragedy of our generation. General Secretary Xi knows that the survival of the ruling party depends upon fighting corruption, so why doesn't he coalesce the strength of the entire population and let citizens exercise their rights to freedom of speech, assembly, association, and the press, as granted by Article 35 of the Constitution, to supervise the ruling party, change everything, and hold ourselves accountable to posterity?

The police, prosecutors, and court consider Xu Zhiyong, myself and others as accomplices. In truth, Dr. Xu and I don’t really know each other, have only seen each other a few times in passing, and have spoken less than ten sentences. Most of my accomplices live in northern Beijing while I alone live in southern Beijing. Moreover, because of my family and my gender, I seldom go out at night to participate in any activities so I have not done much. March 31 was the only time I participated in a “Citizens Demanding Asset Disclosure by Officials” street action; what’s more, I only watched and took photos, neither unfurling banners nor making speeches. But I do not feel I have been wronged; I accept this as a badge of honor. Although I am not as brave as he, nor am I as intelligent as he, I agree with many of his views.

Several decades ago, luminaries of today’s ruling party raised high the banner for issues such as anti-corruption, establishing a democratic republic, and liberalization of speech, to overthrow the Nationalist government led by the Kuomintang. All this has been recorded in the history books. Sixty years have passed since then, and I urge our leaders to keep in mind the original intent of our founding fathers when they devoted their lives to the revolution, and to deliver on their promises to the Chinese people. With the exception of a few tyrants, even those despicable feudal emperors of ages past held steadfast to moral baselines and neither criminalized speech nor killed officials who dared to speak out. Surely in our modern and civilized time, we can do the same? The beheading of the six heroes of the [Qing Dynasty] Reform Movement at Caishikou, sounded the death knell for the Qing Dynasty!

Many people ask me: Why do you want to do this? Yes, as of now I am already 45 years old, and compared to many people, I haven’t really experienced much unfairness, haven’t been persecuted, but we are one person, a citizen living in the 21st century. If you only speak out in protest when your own interests are infringed, aren’t you nothing more than a pig? Sixty-five years have passed and, if the vast majority of people in this nation think it normal to be a pig, it is a tragedy for our entire people, for the entire era. To be an upright citizen should not be an extravagant hope. I love this country; everything that I do comes from that love for my country and for my compatriots, which I can never let go. But I feel that the highest form of patriotism is supervising the government, supervising the ruling party, and not just singing praises and flattering leaders.

Whatever the court’s verdict, I have done the things I felt I should do and am willing to take the consequences. I hope that this is the last time a citizen stands in the defendant’s dock, for only having expressed her own views.

(Translation by a group of volunteers)