Sakharov Prize Award 08 – Hu Jia -The whole Message from Zeng Jinyan


Dear friends, Hello,

I am Hu Jia’s wife, Zeng Jinyan. Hu Jia is currently in prison and so is unable to come to the ceremony to receive his Sakharov Prize.

I don’t have a passport so I cannot come to Europe either to attend the ceremony for the Sakharov Prize’s 20th anniversary. We are deeply sorry about this.

The good news is that Hu Jia was transferred on 10 October 2008 from Chaobai prison in Tianjin to the Beijing municipal prison, and that the conditions in which he is being held have improved. As for his health, he is looking a little better. He seems to be in slightly better shape than he was in Chaobai prison.

However, he had two blood tests in the space of a month and we don’t know what the results were. Although we asked for them, the results of the tests have not been given to the family. This behaviour worries us. It makes us fear that his cirrhosis has got worse.

I visited Hu Jia in the Beijing municipal prison on 21 November 2008. Before our meeting, we were both warned separately by the prison authorities that we were forbidden to talk about the fact that he had been awarded the Sakharov Prize.

So, during my visit, neither of us was able to talk about the prize. We weren’t able to discuss it by letter either, as all our correspondence is inspected. Even if all we do is express a view about social phenomena or if Hu Jia talks about the prison, when the prison authorities are not happy with it, our letters are confiscated or Hu Jia’s letters are returned to him. We very much hope to be able to communicate more normally, but for the time being it is very hard.

At the end of October 2008 or beginning of November, I am not exactly sure which, State Security police officers told Hu Jia he had won the Sakharov Prize.

And when I saw him on 21 November, I could sense that he was very happy about it. I know that Hu Jia spoke to his mother and to the policemen about it. These are more or less his words:

“Perhaps the European Parliament was thinking of the work I did in the areas of AIDS and the environment, because what I did in terms of human rights was very far from sufficient and I will need to redouble my efforts.”

He also said this Sakharov Prize was very important for China and he was confident that the future would prove him right. Obviously, from my personal viewpoint, I hope he comes home as soon as possible. Hu Jia said one day that he hoped to be China’s last prisoner of conscience but the reality is very different. Since the day of his trial, on 3 April, there have been others such as Huang Qi, Zeng Honglin and Chen Daojun who have been arrested by the authorities because their expressed their views publicly. And some of them have been tried and given prison sentences.

This shows that the situation of freedom of opinion is still absolutely appalling and that there is no reason for optimism.

But even in these circumstances, there are now a great many exceptional people and people of goodwill in Chinese society who are going to great lengths to find ways to make the real situation in China known, and to express deeply-felt views, and the Internet is providing them with a very interesting platform. But unfortunately there is sometimes a very high price to be paid for this.

If the truth be told, sometimes one’s courage is not enough. Sometimes the price to be paid is very, very high. There have been cases in which, after human rights activists, writers and others have used their freedom of thought, their relatives have also been harassed by the police, have lost their jobs or have been put under house arrest. And more serious still, some have even been tried and convicted.

Hu Jia had himself been illegally kidnapped several times by the police since 2004, without any form of legal procedure. He was constantly followed and in the end he was given a prison sentence. And I, who am his wife, I am often harassed by the police. 05:49

Others are in the same situation, such as Chen Guangchen and his wife, Guo Feixiong and his wife, and even their child, who has been denied his right to education. Thanks to many appeals from different quarters, Guo Feixiong’s children were later able to go back to school although in circumstances that are not very satisfactory.

For all these reasons, I would like to respect the desire that Hu Jia has expressed on many occasions. He has often said he would like to set up a support network to help the families of human rights activists. To provide moral support for the families, to ease their mental and life pressure to which they are subjected. So that they can be strong enough to face the pressure of the authorities in a more active and optimistic manner, and to discourage cruel revenge-taking on families.

I cannot at the moment do very much but I would like to use the 50,000 euros of Hu Jia’s Sakharov Prize as start-up money, to establish a foundation to support the families of human rights activists and to finally realise what Hu Jia had always wanted.

Why is the human rights work done by Hu Jia so difficult?

I think this is mainly because China’s legal system is not satisfactory. There are laws, there are all sorts of articles and regulations, some are well written, but they are not applied.

In reality, the situation of the rule of law is disastrous. The judicial system has no independence. Until 2004, Hu Jia devoted most of his activity to the problems of AIDS and the environment. He spent a lot of the time in the field, on campaigns, where people needed him to take concrete action.

Then, from 2004 onwards, the police regularly denied him his freedom of movement and he had no other choice but to participate in human rights movements from his home, writing articles and publishing reports from the field.

I think that during all these years, the most important and most interesting thing he did was to have constantly persisted in saying the truth. He never stopped writing about the phenomena he observed. He never stopped describing, one by one, all the realities that the Chinese media cannot say. He never stopped publishing all this on websites so that the public could learn about the reality of China and understand it.

In my view, this has been his greatest contribution.

If you look at China now, you see everyone talking, but lying is very widespread. Nonetheless, there are people who continue their quest for the truth. Because the school textbooks our children study, our newspapers and broadcast media, our libraries and all these documents and files, they all resemble what you find in the novel 1984. They are written in another language to describe a fictitious reality.

What is the real situation, the real China? We do not know.

That is why there is a group of thinking people, like Hu Jia, in China who have never abandoned their quest for the truth. But Hu Jia has paid a very heavy price.

Our child is now just one year old. This is a key period in her life but Hu Jia is not able to be at her side. It is very difficult for me to talk about this, but I think…

And then Hu Jia has also always been very optimistic. He said he thought China was experiencing the most open period of its history, that you had to seize the opportunity to more effectively promote a fairer, freer and more democratic society in China.

We can indeed see this in our daily life, although the government still has very tight control over the media and over freedom of association, and perhaps even tighter control with the use of new technology. But on the other hand, civil society also uses the new technology and the platform that the Internet provides to actively promote a fairer judicial system and a more just society, and to investigate and expose the real China.

And to carry out citizen education, to educate citizens about human rights. It is a real hope: whether the government wants it or not, and whether leading figures inside or outside China recognise it or not, China is moving at great speed towards an open and democratic society.

I would finally like to say that, whatever happens, we must maintain an active and optimist attitude and pursue our efforts to promote the rule of law in China, to promote democracy and freedom in China.

We are full of hope of soon being able to hail the arrival of an open China. We are full of energy for China to become a country at peace.

I would like to thank our European Parliament friends from the bottom of my heart. The European Parliament has from the outset taken an interest in Hu Jia’s case and has deployed considerable efforts on behalf of freedom for Hu Jia and other Chinese human rights activists, efforts that demand respect.

It has also never stopped drawing attention to the need for freedom to become a reality for the people of China. Thank you, thank you very much.

I would also like to take this opportunity to thank all those friends who I have never seen. If you had not supported us for so long, if you had not taken an interest in our fate, if you had not constantly encouraged us, I think we would never have found the courage to confront such a difficult social reality.

It helps us to keep hope and to continue our efforts.

I thank you. Thank you for all the efforts you have undertaken for Hu Jia, for me and for our family. Thank you for your efforts on behalf of human rights activists and you contribution to the progress of Chinese society.

Thank you.

Thank you, thank you. And goodbye.

Posted: 17 Dec 2008 05:24 AM PST

Sakharov Prize Award 08 – Hu Jia – Message from Zeng Jinyan
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3 responses to “Sakharov Prize Award 08 – Hu Jia -The whole Message from Zeng Jinyan

  1. You can watch an edited version of Zeng Jinyan’s message here (Chinese with English subtitles):

  2. I think your message is touching and inspirational. Your husband has heroic abilities to endure hardships that must be difficult. He deserves the world recognition he has gotten and I wish for the both of you a peaceful time to raise your child in peace.

  3. There are many of us thinking of you and your family and fighting for justice in their name. Congratulations on the prize.

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