I was disappointed to see that China has allowed to go free a former journalist who committed the ultimate offense – defacing the image of Mao. This man poses a threat to all of us, and now that he is out, no one is safe.
A Chinese journalist was freed Wednesday after spending nearly 17 years in prison for splattering paint on a portrait of Mao during the 1989 pro-democracy protests in Tiananmen Square, a family member and a human rights advocate said.
The journalist, Yu Dongyue, now 38, and two friends hurled eggs filled with red paint at the famous painting of Mao, which still stares at Tiananmen Square from across the street, where it hangs above the entrance to the Forbidden City. Mr. Yu and his family are expected to reunite in Hunan Province on Thursday, but his younger brother said the family was deeply concerned about Mr. Yu’s mental health.
“He no longer recognizes me,” said Yu Xiyue, the brother, who made a prison visit last year. In 2004, Reporters Without Borders, the journalism advocacy group, said Mr. Yu had gone insane as a result of torture in prison.
Don’t be sentimental as you read the descriptions of this rightist going mad from years of torture and solitary confinement. He was 21 years old when he committed his treasonous act, he knew what he was doing. He sought to split apart the Chinese people and disrupt the harmony that binds us. One people, one party, one voice.
Especally be suspicious of the whinings of John Kamm, an enemy of China who seeks to protect those who would threaten the established order – the very order that has brought China unparalleled success and made it a great superpower. Kamm’s snivelling, maudlin attempts to pull at our heartstrings are despicable.
Mr. Kamm said Mr. Yu’s return to society would be tightly restricted, as is the case with all freed political prisoners. He will not have any political rights and will be forbidden to work at a university or any state-owned enterprise. He is also prohibited from speaking to news organizations.
“He will be, for the rest of his life, a targeted person,” Mr. Kamm said.
Mr. Yu had worked as a reporter and art critic for Liuyang News, a local paper in Hunan. In 2004, Lu Decheng, one of the two friends arrested with Mr. Yu, visited him in prison and told Radio Free Asia that he was “barely recognizable.”
Mr. Yu had “a totally dull look in his eyes, kept repeating words over and over as if he were chanting a mantra,” Mr. Lu said, adding: “He had a big scar on the right side of his head. A fellow prisoner said Yu had been tied to an electricity pole and left out in the hot sun for several days. He was also kept in solitary confinement for two years, and that was what broke him.”
Well, well, well, Mr. Kamm, why don’t you be good enough to tell us why Yu shouldn’t be a “targetted man” for the rest of his life? None of your mawkish claptrap, larded with bourgeois sentimentality, can alter the fact that he sought to deface an image of the man who gave China its backbone. He was given a fair trial and legal representation, and his too-lenient sentence was determined within the framework of the law. China is a nation of laws. Don’t sit there in your posh American office and tell us how to run our country.
Mr. Hu, I urge you to re-imprison Mr. Yu. The sickness that motivated him is a thousand times more lethal than bird flu. Bird flu is a disease of the skin, Mr. Yu’s splittist treason is a disease of the heart. How sad, to see our leaders get weak at the knees due to foreign pressure and hooligans like John Kamm.
Richard Burger is the author of Behind the Red Door: Sex in China, an exploration of China's sexual revolution and its clash with traditional Chinese values.