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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 Chunfu (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

  1. Wang Qiaoling (王峭岭) (wife of lawyer Li Heping)
  2. Li Wenzu (李文足) (wife of lawyer Wang Quanzhang)
  3. Yuan Shanshan (原姗姗) (wife of lawyer Xie Yanyi)
  4. Chen Guiqiu (陈桂秋) (wife of lawyer Xie Yang)
  5. Xie Huicheng (谢惠成) (father of lawyer Xie Yang)
  6. Liang Fengying (谢惠成) (mother of lawyer Xie Yang)
  7. Huang Yi (黄   仪) (sister of lawyer Xie Yang)
  8. Xie Yangjun (谢扬军) (brother of lawyer Xie Yang)
  9. Xie Cuiping (谢翠平) (sister of lawyer Xie Yang)
  10. Xiao Song (肖   松) (elder brother-in-law of lawyer Xie Yang)
  11. Xie Baolian (谢保连) (sister of lawyer Xie Yang)
  12. Qin Mingnan (秦名南) (brother-in-law of lawyer Xie Yang)
  13. Xie Chilian (谢池连) (sister of lawyer Xie Yang)
  14. Huang Yuanyou (黄渊友) (brother-in-law of lawyer Xie Yang)
  15. Xie Wanlian (谢晚连) (sister of lawyer Xie Yang)
  16. Yuan Bangqun (袁邦群) (brother-in-law of lawyer Xie Yang)
  17. Xie Juping (谢菊平) (sister of lawyer Xie Yang)
  18. Lin Youguo (林又国) (brother-in-law of lawyer Xie Yang)
  19. Xie Xuhua (谢续华) (nephew of lawyer Xie Yang)
  20. Ning Haiyan (宁海燕) (nephew of lawyer Xie Yang)
  21. Chen Jiamu () (father of lawyer Xie Yang)
  22. Wang Quanxiu (王全秀) (sister of lawyer Wang Quanzhang)
  23. Li Maodi (李茂堤) (father-in-law of lawyer Wang Quanzhang)
  24. Wang Fengen (王凤恩) (father of lawyer Wang Quanzhang)
  25. Mo Zhenglan (莫正兰) (mother of lawyer Wang Quanzhang)
  26. Li Rongsheng (李荣生) (fathers of lawyers Li Heping & Li Chunfu)
  27. Wang Youhua (王友华) (mother of lawyers Li Heping & Li Chunfu)
  28. Li Chunlian (李春连) (sister of lawyers Li Heping & Li Chunfu)
  29. Yang Bo (杨 波 ) (nephew of lawyers Li Heping & Li Chunfu)
  30. Wang Changyun (王昌运) (father-in-law of lawyer Li Heping)
  31. Ren Yuqin (任玉琴) (mother-in-law of lawyer Li Heping)
  32. Wang Xianfeng (王险峰) (lawyer Li Heping’s wife’s brother)
  33. Li Ying (李  英) (lawyer Li Heping’s wife’s sister)
  34. Wang Junyan (王峻岩) (lawyer Li Heping’s wife’s sister)
  35. Wang Wei (王   伟) (lawyer Li Heping’s wife’s nephew)