Xu Xiaoshun, father of Wu Gan | China Change
This article was first published on China Change website on May 22, 2017
On May 20, 2015, while supporting lawyers on the “Leping Wrongful Conviction Case” at the Jiangxi Provincial Higher People’s Court, Wu Gan (aka “The Butcher”) was detained by the Nanchang municipal police. Several days later he, a native of Fujian province, was charged by the Fujian police with the crimes of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble” and “defamation,” and jailed in Yongtai County Detention Center. During his detention in Fujian he was able to meet with lawyers several times. But then he was suddenly forbidden meetings, and on February 1, 2016, it was learned he’d been transferred to the custody of Tianjin municipal police as part of the 709 (July 9, 2015) case, or the now infamous crackdown on human rights lawyers, and was detained in Tianjin 2nd Detention Center. On December 9, 2016, 17 months after seeing their client last, attorneys Yan Xin and Ge Yongxi obtained permission to meet with Wu Gan in Tianjin, and learned from him that he’d been brutally tortured, including being deprived of sleep, shackled hand and foot like a death row prisoner with “I-bar” hand irons, hospitalized and administered “excessive and exaggerated” medical treatment, and not allowed outside for more than 200 days. He told the lawyers that those administering his case hoped he would plead guilty, accept a state-appointed lawyer, and make a televised confession. He staunchly refused. On January 3, 2017, Wu Gan was indicted with the crimes of subversion of state power and picking quarrels and provoking trouble. On March 24, 2017, attorney Ge Yongxi again met with Wu Gan. Wu Gan revealed that he’d been seen by a state-delegated female psychologist who advised him to plead guilty. Wu Gan emphasized that he would not commit unprincipled acts, and would not fire his lawyers and accept state-appointed ones. Due to the international attention attracted by the publishing of attorney Chen Jiangang’s “Transcript of My Meeting with Xie Yang,” Wu Gan’s lawyers have been denied meetings with Wu Gan again since March 24. — The Editors
Dear colleagues, Wu Gan’s friends, victims of 709 Crackdown on human rights lawyers, and supporters: I send my regards to you all. My name is Xu Xiaoshun; I am Wu Gan’s father. Since Wu Gan was illegally imprisoned by the authorities, you have given him a lot of support and concern. I take this opportunity to thank you all from the bottom of my heart!
Wu Gan uses his mother’s surname, but did not inherit his mother’s gentle temperament. He’s just like me, inclined to help victims of injustice. Over the years Wu Gan has helped defend the rights of many people he’d never met before. I don’t have a specific understanding of all the things he did. But I do know his enthusiasm and integrity. I said to him: “What’s the use of your activism? It’s eventually going to land you in jail.” But he has his own ideas. Every time we met we argued, but after each dispute he persisted in his course of action.
I believe that everyone is somewhat familiar with the things Wu Gan has done since 2008. The authorities bitterly hate him, and have repeatedly persecuted him. But they have not succeeded in getting him to surrender. This is how they do things: when they couldn’t subdue him, they targeted his family to blackmail him. So on September 13, 2012, the local government gathered some people and fabricated the excuse of the crime of embezzlement to criminally detain me. According to their statement, I falsified accounts and conspired with others to privately sell an oil company’s crude oil. Of course the contents of the fabricated accounts couldn’t be verified. I was detained until May 23, 2013. When they couldn’t break me, they released me on “bail pending trial.” The year-long bail period expired on May 23, 2014, and in lieu of any evidence they dropped the case. However, on May 19, 2015, when Wu Gan was defending the rights of those sentenced to death in the Leping Wrongful Conviction Case in the Nanchang, Jiangxi Higher People’s Court, he was arrested. In order to make Wu Gan give up, on June 25, 2015 the authorities detained me again using the same charge. Since then, they have put on a show and held three court sessions. On January 19, 2017, they again released me on “bail pending trial.” On April 17 of this year, the Fuqing Municipal Court issued a ruling allowing the procuratorate to withdraw the criminal charges. On May 3, 2017, I received the Fuqing Municipal Procuratorate’s decision not to prosecute. From detention to withdrawal of charges, I was detained for nearly two years.
Discerning eyes can see that I was imprisoned altogether for more than two years because of my son Wu Gan’s human rights defense activities. I’ve suffered hardship, but have never blamed him. What he’s done isn’t wrong—I’m somewhat educated and I understand right and wrong. Some say that I have suffered guilt by association, but I have a different view. Guilt by association was invented by the Warring States Period statesman Shang Yang (390-338 BC), it means that when a person has committed a crime, their relatives share responsibility and must be punished as well. But my son Wu Gan has committed no crime. I was arrested, but only as a hostage to blackmail my son to plead guilty. I believe this interpretation is easier for people to understand.
My health has deteriorated after spending more than two years in the detention center. Old maladies are recurring. My hips and legs don’t move so well. Now that my own “case” has finished, I have to come out and say thank you to everyone! Thank you for more than two years of support and for helping Wu Gan, even though Wu Gan has yet to be “tried” and there are more 709 victims remaining in illegal detention. I think family members of other 709 victims share my sentiment.
I read carefully Wu Gan’s “indictment” cooked up by the authorities. According to the “indictment,” my son Wu Gan was involved in 12 things: supporting three Fujian netizens, supporting home demolition victims, supporting me, supporting the lawyers attacked in Jiansanjiang, at a re-education center in northeastern Heilongjiang Province, supporting the Huaihua Huang Family sisters, supporting the Zhengzhou Ten, supporting attorney Cheng Hai, supporting Yunnan’s Lu Yong for helping 1,000 fellow leukemia patients get access to cheap, life-saving generic drugs from India (陆勇案), supporting Fan Mugen, supporting Qing’an’s Xu Chunhe, and supporting the Jiangxi province “Leping Wrongful Conviction Case” lawyers. These twelve cases all have specific victims of injustice, and all have real problems that may qualify as crimes. He supported victims of injustice and helped them seek redress, and for this he is charged with the crime of “subverting state power.”
To be honest, reading the indictment I was very angry. Wu Gan was helping victims of injustice. He hasn’t done anything to rebel, but he has been named a rebel. I may disagree with his tactics, but I feel very proud of him. I may not fully understand why my son does these things, but, as someone born several months before the establishment of this Communist government, I understand the regime that rules the society in which I now live.
After I was released from jail, Wu Gan’s friend showed me a video Wu Gan had recorded. After watching it, I cried. Old as I am, I seldom cry. In 1999, when my village was polluted, I took the lead in defending our rights and was sentenced to prison. I did not cry. But after watching the video of my son, I saw another side to him, and cried. My son is a man, and I cried like a baby.
I don’t use the Internet, but his friends showed me information online and I now know a lot of things that happened after Wu Gan got arrested. I know that a lot of lawyers have been arrested since Wu Gan’s arrest. This is known as the 709 Crackdown. Many 709 Crackdown family members, relatives, and friends have been doing everything they can to free their loved ones. Especially Ms. Wang Qiaoling and Ms. Li Wenzu; they are really amazing. And many friends, relatives, and netizens support the 709 victims with bravery and intelligence. As Wu Gan’s father, and as a family member of a 709 Crackdown victim, I want to be part of the struggle and do my share, even though my hips and legs aren’t that nimble.
Before Wu Gan was arrested, he entrusted his affairs to some friends. They are able to go online and get more information, take quick action, and their numbers are quite large. I’m very reassured. I write this letter to express gratitude, and also to issue an appeal: Let’s all work together for the sake of 709 victims, and for the sake of my son Wu Gan. The more people who fight back, the better.
I’m a man with few hobbies, but I like to study fengshui (geomancy). People used to seek my advice on fengshui in choosing cemetery sites. Some may think that this is superstition, but I think it’s a way of giving people spiritual sustenance. A friend of Wu Gan told me that there’s a mother of one of the 709 victims who is a devout Buddhist. Every morning after her meditation, she said: My son is innocent, but they arrested him and won’t let lawyers meet him, leaving me no news of him whatsoever. Buddha, when will they die? I want to tell this mother, and I also say it in my heart every day: My son is innocent, they arrested him, now they won’t let his lawyers meet him. I want to find them a suitable site for their burial!
Thank you all again!