Chinese Bloggers Take Stand Against Web Activist's Arrest
Posted by John Kennedy to Global Voices Online
Following his apprehension last month as he was pitching in with the earthquake relief in his native Sichuan province, web activist Huang Qi was this weekend formally arrested for “illegal possession of state secrets”.
Volunteers at his well-known website 64Tianwang.com (English) have been actively posting all news coverage and details surrounding Huang's case, but the campaign to have his charges dropped gained a lot more momentum when, following his formal arrest on Friday afternoon, three of China's better-known social issue bloggers, all from Sichuan, Wang Yi, Ran Yunfei and
Linghu Buchong*, joined up with two other intellectual-writers, Liao Yiwu and Li Yadong, to take the brave step of issuing a letter of protest. The letter has been posted not just on their own blogs, but also on the more mainstream My1510, IndyMediaCN, among many others.
A translation of the letter, the original of which has since been read and spread widely online, can be seen below. Of particular note, however, is the online support yet another highly-read blogger, Mo Zhixu, has been providing on his own and in his own way, centered around his blog at independent portal Bullog.cn.
In early June, he posted the content of Huang's Chinese Wikipedia entry, which at the time had far more information than its English counterpart, in a post at Bullog which although has since been deleted, can still be found elsewhere.
In a June 15 post titled simply, ‘One less person on MSN', Mo reposts a Chinese-language RFA news report with the details of Huang's arrest and earthquake relief/writing activities in the few days prior. On June 17 he posted a picture of the official document first used to detain Huang nearly a week earlier on June 11, along with the legal definition of what constitutes “possession of a state secret” in China:
Then on Saturday, July 19, Mo returned to Huang's case with a picture and transcription of the official notice of Huang's formal arrest, addressed to Huang's mother, a post which in just a few hours had received over 11,000 hits and many supportive and outraged comments:
Below is the text of Wang, Ran, Linghu, Liao and Li's statement on Huang's arrest:
While we have never been acquainted with Huang Qi, we respect the “Tianwang” which he founded to devote himself to upholding the rights of citizens. We know that he has served jail time, that he was mistreated while in prison, and that he came out with pains in his chest and other lingering conditions. Out of respect for him, we maintain our firm support for his civil rights-upholding activities through “Tianwang”, particularly his efforts in helping Mother Tang, relative of a June 4 victim, fight for compensation from the government.
As several Sichuanese intellectuals who experienced the earthquake, we especially respect Mr. Huang Qi for his participation in the civil society relief effort work following the earthquake. We know that he did everything in his power to provide supplies and aid to the earthquake victims in the disaster area, and was in contact with the parents of children who perished in the earthquake."
但我们非常不理解，一个普通公民参与救灾、了解灾区真实情形，这和“国家机密”有什么关系？我们也曾以普通公民身份，参与 过一些灾区救助的工作。我们和黄琦先生一样，也和成千上万在灾区的民间志愿者一样，因此了解到一些非官方的、甚至与媒体的报道不完全一致的信息。可是，难 道一个公民从媒体以外了解到的信息，就属于“国家机密”吗？难道国家天然地拥有一切社会信息的所有权吗？难道一个公民有幸（或不幸）见到或听到了一些和政 府口径不一致的信息，他就“非法持有国家机密”了吗？
如果这样的话，那就意味着每一个和黄琦说过话的灾民，都非法持有着国家机密。换言之，一旦他们成了灾民，他们就同时成了“国家机密”或携带国家机密的病 毒。成都和四川警方应该逮捕每一个和黄琦有过接触的灾民，而不是仅仅逮捕黄琦一人。或者至少把所有灾民都隔离起来，免得我们一和他们说话，就触碰了国家机 密。
If that is the case, then that would suggest that every single earthquake victim who spoke with Huang Qi is also in illegal possession of state secrets. Put another way, at the same time they became earthquake victims, they also became “state secrets”, or began carrying some sort of state secret virus. The Chengdu and Sichuan police should go arrest every single earthquake victim who came in contact with Huang Qi, and not only just Huang Qi himself. Or at least, all earthquake victims should be put in isolation, to keep any of us from speaking to them, and coming across any state secrets.
基于法治的常识，我们知道所谓国家机密，第一是不为一般公民所知，第二是国家事先采取了保密措施。换言之，凡是能在大街上 看到的事，都不是机密。凡是在大街上看见裸体，一定不是看见的人有问题，而是被看见的人有问题。也就是说，一个非国家机关的普通公民，除非他以非法的方式 刺探、偷窃被国家机关预先加以保护的信息；否则，他所知道的任何信息，都不可能触及“非法持有国家机密”这一罪名。
因此，我们对成都警方因黄琦先生参与震后救灾而逮捕他、构陷他，不得不表示强烈的质疑、反对和抗议。尽管我们看出，地方政府似乎不太喜欢民间的救灾 志愿活动，但成都警方逮捕黄琦的事件，仍然是令人震惊的。我们只能理解为这是对市民社会的一种否定，对民间的一次粗暴和傲慢的挑衅，也是对这个刚刚遭受地 震的省份的一次羞辱。
我们基于个人的经验和良心，不相信这是一次公正的逮捕。但我们希望成都警方能以尊敬法治、尊重公民权利，同时也是尊重自己的方式，来处理这一案件。我们主 张并支持媒体、网络和民间可以自由地报道和评论这一案件，我们更加鼓励成都和其他地方的知识分子、市民和媒体，更多地站出来质疑和批评成都警方，以公民的 正当方式，帮助政府尊重他自己制定的法律。
As such, we have no choice but to express our strong suspicion, opposition and protest to Chengu police's arrest of Huang Qi under the false pretense of his participation in post-earthquake disaster relief. Although we have seen that the local government was not happy to see volunteer-based civil society relief rescue efforts, the Chengdu police's arrest of Huang Qi is all the more shocking. We can only understand this as a sort of negation of municipal society, a cruel and arrogant provocation aimed at civil society, as well as a humiliation to this province which only just suffered an earthquake.
Based on experience and conscience, we do not believe this to be a just arrest. We do hope that Chengdu police will be able to respect the rule of law and respect civic rights, at the same time, respecting their own methods used in handling a case. We advocate for and support the media, internet and civil society to be able to freely report and comment upon this case. Even more, we encourage intellectuals, urban residents and media in Chengdu and elsewhere to stand up and question and criticize the Chengdu police for this, using the legitimate means of a citizen to help the government in respecting the laws it itself established."
We would hate to see this case become yet another dismal human rights record raising international attention in the midst of this Olympic year. We regret to suspect, however, that the Chengdu police are at present committed to doing as much. As intellectuals of China, we also hate to see China's human rights situation always being criticized by people from other countries, which is why we can only be hard-headed about this, and begin first and foremost by criticizing our own government.
We hope the Chengdu police and Chengdu judicial departments take the initiative in their response to this case. May our criticism, protest and response to the government prove to be a blessing for Chengdu, and for China.
July 19, 2008"
Just a brief description of Huang's website Tianwang: put online in 1998 as a platform for reuniting families with missing persons, a year later it had expanded its focus to larger social issues, exposing several corruption cases and one major medical scandal, during which time Huang Qi was beaten while his website garnered heavy praise in commercial and official Chinese (as well as foreign) media. Less than two years later, the website was shut down. Two weeks after that, Huang Qi had it up and running again, this time hosted overseas, only then to be blocked within China as it remains today. That same summer, Huang Qi was sentenced to five years in prison for subversion of state power. All this and more can be read on Tianwang here.
*Linghu Buchong has informed GVO that while he in fact did not sign his name to the letter, he was the first person to have posted it to Bullog.
Tags: China , Bloggers , Censorship
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