Dissident writer and activist Guo Feixiong (郭飞雄) — also known as Yang Maodong (杨茂东) — has been detained in Guangzhou on charges of “disrupting public order.” Guo’s family was notified of his detention — the latest in a string of actions against prominent rights advocates in China — on August 17, but a notice from the police shows that he was in fact detained on August 8.
Guo Feixiong has worked as a rights activist since 2003 and has been involved in a number of cases drawing national attention, including the Taishi Village incident in 2005 and more recently the Southern Weekly incident. Convicted in 2007 in connection with his book on political scandal in Liaoning province, A Political Earthquake in Shenyang, Guo has spent more than five of the last ten years in prison.
Yesterday, Guo Feixiong’s wife, Zhang Qing (张青) released an open letter addressed to Chinese President Xi Jinping. She called for Guo’s immediate release without charge and detailed the abuses Guo and his family have suffered as a result of his activism over the past decade.
Open Letter From Guo Feixiong’s Wife Zhang Qing to Xi Jinping
*Demanding that the Chinese government release Guo Feixiong immediately and without charge.
*At the same time, calling urgently on the international community: please pay attention to Guo Feixiong. Your attention will be of immense help to China’s peaceful transformation and particularly to the matter of human rights in China! As Guo Feixiong’s wife, in the capacity of the wife of a sufferer, I offer you my thanks!.
Mr. Xi Jinping:
I am the wife of Guo Feixiong (Yang Maodong): Zhang Qing. When I learned yesterday that Guo Feixiong has again been detained on the unwarranted charge of “disturbing the public order” (扰乱公共秩序) I was shocked and angry. First of all, I must express my sense of outrage as a Chinese citizen, both towards you and towards the Chinese government under your leadership.
This is the fourth time that Guo Feixiong has been locked up by the Chinese government. On this sleepless night, I am flooded with painful memories. But I must pick myself up, and I must raise my pen to write this open letter. I want to let you know, to let the world know, what hardships and cruelties Guo Feixiong — this Chinese prisoner of conscience — has suffered over the past ten years, and what pain and sadness we, his wife and his children, have endured as a result of his persecution.
Since his involvement with rights defense work began in 2003, Guo Feixiong has been illegally detained on four separate occasions. Illegal beatings and brutal torture have for him become common fare. This includes:
1. Interrogated to exhaustion for 13 days and nights in Guangzhou Number One Prison, where he was not permitted to sleep.
2. Placed in leg-irons for more than 100 days in Guangzhou Number One Prison.
3. Kept on a wooden bed in leg-irons and handcuffs for 42 days in Guangzhou Number One Prison.
4. Having his head shaved and being subjected to constant ridicule for more than 20 days in Guangzhou Number One Prison.
5. After being transferred to Shenyang, he was forced by case investigators to wear a black bag over his head, like that worn by death-row inmates, then was taken to a secret location and violently beaten.
6. When taken by Shenyang investigators to the secret location, he was forced to sit on a “tiger bench” for four hours. [NOTE: this is a kind of torture device, seen here].
7. When taken by Shenyang investigators to the secret location, he was cruelly strung up with his hands behind his back by police, forcing him to bear the full weight of his body with his shoulders.
8. When taken by Shenyang investigators to the secret location, he was subjected by police to the use of a taser on his genitals. Furious at the humiliation, Guo Feixiong attempted suicide by rushing at the glass window, but was unsuccessful.
9. Shenyang police locked Guo Feixiong up together with death-row inmates, and these condemned criminals threatened to carve out his eyes. Guo Feixiong had no choice but to use all his strength to break the glass window to resist them.
In the midst of Guo Feixiong’s persecution, I lost my job because of the interference of the police, and I was constantly shadowed. Police even followed my child. I remember one time when my nine year-old daughter was followed too closely. She was frightened and quickly moved ahead of them, but the police still pursued her, moving even closer. When she got home she said: “If only I could do magic, I would make them vanish!”
The persecution of our family later escalated to the point they would no longer allow my two children to attend school: The police threatened Guo Feixiong: “We won’t let your son go to primary school. We won’t let your daughter continue on to middle school.” And they did exactly as they said. My children had to be out of school for a year. When my daughter matriculated, all of her classmates had middle schools to go to, but my daughter didn’t. I remember that every day I was worried about my daughter moving up into middle school — I wrote open letters, and went out constantly to look into schools. Every time I came him, my daughter would open the door for me. Timidly, she would ask: “Have you found a school?” “No,” I would say, a lump in my throat. They don’t just use prison, inflicting torture on adults — they make things impossible for children, thinking nothing of destroying a child’s future. This sort of cruelty visited on associated [innocents] must be a rare thing whether in ancient times or in the present day, don’t you think? For me, this has been the greatest pressure, and this is the main reason we moved to the United States [in 2009] with the help of friends.
We sincerely hope these nightmares will end soon. We sincerely hope that human rights and rule of law can enjoy to most basic respect in China. And so, Mr. Xi Jinping, when you said early on in your leadership that we must fully implement the Constitution, when you swore that there would be fairness and justice in every case, even though we had already for so long felt a sense despair, we still held those words in our own hearts. How could we not feel hope, even if those promises were left just one percent fulfilled? That would be a welcome rain in the midst of crippling drought.
But then, suddenly, the crackdown comes again, and we are thrown right back down into despair. On August 17, my daughter learned before I did that Guo Feixiong had been secretly detained in Guangzhou on August 8. She said to me: “The instant I saw the news, a feeling of cold spread through my whole body, and my head felt dizzy. I could hardly get hold of myself. I wanted to cry. To shout: ‘Taken again? But he’s been out no more than a few days!'” Mr. Xi Jinping, you too have a daughter. Tell me, in a situation like this, how should I console my daughter?
I am proud of my husband. He is a tolerant, humane, responsible and compassionate man, an idealist, someone who struggles tirelessly. Our whole family respects and loves him. In 2008, when he was still in Meizhou Prison (梅州监狱), my daughter wrote him a letter, and she drew a caricature of him. She wrote on the picture: “I am a hero.” Her father was great, she said. He had suffered so much for his beliefs, and through it all he had kept his piece of mind. I truly admire him. He would never commit a crime, and it’s not possible that he’s a criminal. On the contrary, it’s those who have gone out of their way to brand innocent citizens as criminals who are the true criminals.
Mr. Xi Jinping, this open letter I’m writing today is the ninth open letter I’ve written to the senior leaders of our country. All of the letters before were just stones dropped into the sea. Will this letter be any different? I don’t dare hope. But regardless of the result, I will not give up striving. In want to use this letter to let the whole world know my inner feelings, to pray for the peace of my husband.
As Guo Feixiong’s wife, I demand that the Chinese government immediately release Guo Feixiong without charge.
At the same time, I call urgently on the international community: please pay attention to Guo Feixiong. Your attention will be of immense help to China’s peaceful transformation and particularly to the matter of human rights in China! As Guo Feixiong’s wife, in the capacity of the wife of a sufferer, I offer you my thanks!
I wish you peace!
Guo Feixiong’s (Yang Maodong’s) wife, Chinese citizen: Zhang Qing (张青)
August 19, 2013