Category Archives: other materials

Zeng Jinyan: a Confession from the Prisoner at Freedom City

A Confession from the Prisoner at Freedom City

by Zeng Jinyan

The 22nd letter from Hu Jia has arrived. But the 19th and 21st letters have both been confiscated. Hu Jia finally received the diary that I wrote on behalf of our daughter Baobao, even though two of the pages had been torn off and confiscated. Hu Jia had almost refrained from talking about things that had happened in the prison. He mentioned briefly that he had influenza and a temperature, and therefore could only sit for one examination. During my visits and in our letters, we mostly talked about small details of our everyday lives, including the way in which our child is growing up. As soon as we started to talk about something else, our conversation would be terminated, or our letters confiscated.

Today I took Baobao to Grandma and Grandpa. In the afternoon, the state security wanted to have a chat with me. As soon as we met, I told them that I was tired and was on the verge of a breakdown. So if it was good news, they could go ahead and tell me. Otherwise they should not bother.

But the state security insisted on talking to me…

On the way home at the Si Hui Bus Station, I burst into tears over some trivial matters. I can’t remember the last time I cried. Perhaps it was on the day when Hu Jia was sentenced.

I was back at Freedom City in the evening. When I entered the courtyard, I caught sight of some plain-clothed police; they were watching me from a well-illuminated spot. There was also an ordinary infrared camera on the roof above the gate. Every time I raised my head I could feel the blood red colour of the light blinding my sight.

What I’m writing now can be used as a confession to the state security police. It’s also a confession I made to myself and to Hu Jia. When Hu Jia has a chance to read it in future, he will understand.

I will object to any plan to extend Hu Jia’s prison terms or to impose harsher penalties on him, even though I am aware that there is little I can do to reverse the decision. I would be most delighted if he would be released ahead of schedule, because I so much look forward to his return. We may not have carefully thought through the way we handle our work on environmental protection, on AIDS, and on human rights. We therefore welcome criticisms and suggestions. But we are not members of any military establishment or political party. And we are definitely not a part of any conspiracy. We are simply a couple of naive, unsophisticated and powerless individuals who are trying our best to give a hand to those who need help. We are not too concerned about whether we are making a huge impact; we are only helping one person at a time.

You want me to persuade Hu Jia to correct his thoughts, as a way to speed up his release and his return to society. How would I not want him to come home soon? It is just that I don’t have a chance to do so. Whenever I write to Hu Jia about what happens in society, my letter will be confiscated. What else can I do? I don’t have much to live for. I only struggle to stay alive for my child. If what you want is my life, then go ahead and take it, but leave me with my independent spirit and my free will. You are wrong if you think that you can solve your problems by taking away my independence and my will. For me, the simplest solution would be for you to end my life. I have no right to abandon my life; only the Divine can do that. Not all evil and wrongdoings in the world involve one life form taking away its own life or the lives of others; it is also wrong and evil to enslave others, be it physical or spiritual enslavement.

I am exhausted. I am far too busy looking after my child. She seems to have developed a deep sense of insecurity and is clinging to me so closely as if she is afraid that she may lose me if she let go. It is so bad that sometimes I can’t even enjoy a proper hot meal. I am suffering from severe back pain. My arms have no strength. I am not sleeping well and have become absent-minded … I can’t find the strength to respond to many things happening around me. So those of you with grievances against an organization, a person, or someone’s opinion, would have to go directly to them to have things sorted out. I have neither the power nor the right to demand others to say something or not to say something. Those who do good deeds; they will get praise. Those who do evil; they will sooner or later be condemned. This is a common practice everywhere in the world, including China. It goes without saying.

I have just read from Xinhua News that the Chinese government has decided to establish a national human rights action plan to map out the development of human rights in China for the next two years…

China will take United Nations Human Rights Council’s universal periodic review

Foreign ministry: Chinese government will continue to work for human rights

[Links in Ms Zeng’s post are all in Chinese.  China Digital Times has more details about China’s human rights action plan.]

There is nothing more basic than to respect human rights, to show concern for humanity and to honour the dignity of mankind. Do you dare to look on what you have done? What you have done to us – the misery and sufferings you have brought to us – has been done on the foundations of human rights abuse.

I’m invoking the Almighty Buddha to give me faith, to guide my trembling hands, to give me his mercy, to end my tears and sorrow, and to keep my feeble heart from losing hope.

from: zengjinyan


Spending the Olympics in jail

Amnesty International has posted on Youtube a video of the police harassing Jinyan Zeng taken from a selection of clips of Prisoners in Freedom City.

Olympics: Understanding China, National Pride and the Agony of Defeat

Article by By Orville Schell Newsweek MagazineChina’s Agony of Defeat

It’s impossible to understand what the Games mean to the Chinese without understanding their history of humiliation.

The Olympics are an irresistible stage for athletes-but also for those who wish to act out their grievances before the world. The Beijing Games, which kick off on Aug. 8, are hardly an exception. While Chinese leaders furiously insist they’re not, and should not be, “political,” these Olympics promise to become one of the most charged in history. Rarely has a more varied array of contentious issues crystallized around a single sporting event.[continues…]

Activists supporting Hu Jia wanted by police

From a number of sources, unfortunately all in chinese (google translate isn’t fantastic) as well as jinyan’s blog, a few activists who are asking for the release of Hu Jia are wanted by the police and are currently in hiding. The chinese link is “here” so you may read it using whatever translation tool you prefer.

China’s Olympian Human Rights Deficit

Background reading From China HRW by Phelim Kine;

English version of Phelim Kine’s op-ed “China’s Olympisch gebrek aan mensenrechten,” published in the Dutch magazine Idee (July 2008).

The Olympic torch relay passed through Lhasa on June 21 with precious little hint of respect for the “fundamental ethical values” enshrined in the Olympic Charter. Instead of cheering sports fans, the streets were filled with thousands of police in riot gear surveilling the hand-picked crowds and the foreign journalists flown in specially to cover the event.

These controls are just the latest evidence of how the March 14-15 violence in the Tibetan capital has prompted the most systematic and prolonged crackdown on human rights in China since the June 1989 Tiananmen Massacre. The government broke up peaceful demonstrators criticizing Chinese rule in Tibet, after which violent protests erupted, which in turn gave the government a rationale to invoke when it kicked the foreign media out of the region and launched an intensive security operation involving hundreds of thousands of armed police and military.[continues…]

Olympics triggering tragic Chinese crackdown

BEIJING (AFP) – A leading US congressman said Tuesday China was carrying out a tragic crackdown to smother dissent during the Olympics, triggering a warning by Beijing to butt out or risk harming Sino-US ties.
“Tragically, the Olympics has triggered a massive crackdown designed to silence and put beyond reach all those whose views differ from the official ‘harmonious’ government line,” U.S. Representative Christopher Smith told journalists.

“On Sunday night, three human rights lawyers with whom we had scheduled to have dinner, were threatened, then taken away or placed under house arrest by the police. Our meeting never occurred.”

The detained rights lawyers, veteran activists Teng Biao, Li Heping and Li Baiguang, had not violated any law, he said.[continues…]

Hu Jia in China’s Legal Labyrinth

Far Eastern Economic Review May 2008

by Jerome A. Cohen and Eva Pil

On april 3, 2008, the Beijing Number One Intermediate People’s Court convicted Hu Jia, a 34-year-old Chinese commentator and activist, of the crime of “inciting subversion of state power” through publication of five articles and two interviews. It sentenced him to three and a half years in prison and subsequent deprivation of his political rights, including that of free expression, for another year. Although Mr. Hu’s case has remained virtually unknown to the Chinese people, by the time of sentencing it had become famous worldwide. When on April 17 foreign journalists asked Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu about it, she gave the standard mofa response to inquiries about political prosecutions: “The case was handled in accordance with Chinese law. China is a country under the rule of law, it abides by the law. No person is above the law and no one has a right to interfere with it.” rule of law, people inside as well as outside the country have reason to be afraid, so flawed was it in both process and substance. [Continues in pdf format]