Don’t forget Hao Wu

I was reading more of his sister’s torturous daily updates recounting the Kafkaesque wall of bureaucracy she and her family face every day as they try to find out something, anything, about the arrest of her beloved brother. I’m looking outside my office window, watching the pedestrians and cars on Xin Yi Lu, and thinking how we all take it for granted that we can go outside and do what we want and carry out our affairs without fear of being watched or persecuted. And I think of Hao Wu, alone in a cell somewhere, and wonder how I could deal with it and keep my sanity. (I honestly don’t think I could.) I’ll be in China in less than two weeks, and my greatest hope is that he’ll be free by then and that a bunch of us bloggers can take him to dinner. It’s not likely; he’s into his third month of imprisonment, and if there’s light at the end of this tunnel I (and Hao Wu’s sister) haven’t seen it yet. And if he were freed, would he want to stay on living in the country that did this to him? I know I’d have second thoughts about it, fearing a repeat performance.

After more than two months, it becomes increasingly difficult to keep up your momentum, and Hao Wu inevitably fades from being a person, becoming rather like a concept and a symbol, losing the human dimensions. So pardon me if I periodically bring him up to remind readers (mainly myself) that this is a flesh and blood human being, an exceptional and wonderful person, who’s languishing behind bars at this very instant. He’s not an abstraction or a concept, and as I prepare to step outside for lunch he has no such freedom, no such luxury. And the thought of that is so agonizing I instinctively want to stop thinking about it. And that’s what I need to fight – the desire to just feel good and forget about it. And so I force myself to remember, and to put up posts like this, so we don’t let his cause burn out and die.

The Discussion: 3 Comments

I just want to add something to your observation about how we (or “we” whenever “we” are free from heavy surveillance or similar threats – and some of us have not always enjoyed such freedom) – how most of us “can go outside and do what we want and carry out our affairs without fear of being watched and persecuted.”

Well, from personal experience I can tell you that it’s like breathing. You don’t notice it until your air gets cut off.

But the main thing I wanted to add – and this is without detracting from Hao Wu’s sufferings one bit – I just want to add, that for every Hao Wu out there, there are far many more in situations like his whose plights are not known to the outside world. The ones who suffer most from the secret police in such situations, are those who suffer in total obscurity.

May 4, 2006 @ 12:22 am | Comment

Thanks for writing this, Richard. I’ve been feeling like I’ve really dropped the ball on this, even though I’m not sure what it is I should be doing at this point. But your post reminds me that I should write another letter and keep passing the word.

May 4, 2006 @ 12:32 am | Comment

I just wrote my friend in the mayor’s office – something I’ve been meaning to do. It’s sort of a long-shot, but Hao was an LA county resident for a number of years, so…maybe they’ll help out.

Thanks again, Richard.

May 4, 2006 @ 12:48 am | Comment

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