Hao Wu Update

The first time I was in China, back when there was no doubt you were living in a totalitarian state, albeit one that was struggling to come back to life after the horrors of the Cultural Revolution, a friend sent us a special baseball cap to wear. It had the word “Kafka” embroidered in red across the front. We thought that was pretty damn funny at the time.

Unfortunately there’s no new news on Hao’s situation. His sister, Nina (Wu Na) continues to blog about her efforts to get justice for her brother. The term “Kafkaesque” could have been coined just to describe some of the situations in which she has found herself.

Yesterday afternoon, I went to the Beijing Petition Office clutching my last strand of hope. On arriving I was startled by the number of police cars parked at the gate. Were there normally so many police there for protection? Were they afraid of someone causing trouble? The petition office was much noisier than the Public Security Bureau. Most of the people were white-haired elderly women. When I was almost to the front of the line, a few bright-eyed and strapping men, whispering to each other, suddenly appeared in the main hall. Their arrival was clearly incompatible with the atmosphere of the hall. Before I had finished explaining the situation, the petition receptionist told me that the Beijing Public Security Bureau was a specialized organization, and the Beijing city government could not exercise supervision over it. In reply, I told her that my brother lived in Beijing, and was taken away by Beijing police, why couldn’t they exercise supervision over this? The receptionist helplessly answered that the Beijing Public Security Bureau is under the direct jurisdiction of higher authorities. Did this mean that the city government did not even have the right of inquiry regarding its actions? Under duress from me, she gave me a suggestion: report the situation to the Procuratorate [the prosecutor’s office]. The Procuratorate should be able to supervise the Public Security Bureau. It appears that the petition offices of all government organs only serve as windows. None of them can solve real problems. They can’t even accept materials. Looking at the two sparse lines of characters on their petition registration form, and the employee next to it typing at a computer, my heart was overcome with despair. In the end, would this all just become a record in some computer?

For someone who doesn’t consider herself a writer, I’m really impressed by Nina’s ability to clearly and eloquently express herself in such unbelievably stressful circumstances. It must run in the family.

The only remotely positive thing I can find in this wretched situation is the way that Hao’s plight has raised the consciousness of the people around him (and that’s not much consolation). Here’s Nina’s account of an email she received from a friend of Hao’s:

“I was your brother’s classmate at the University of Science and Technology. We haven’t been in touch for fourteen years, but I remember your brother’s lively and optimistic personality!

Today, by chance I read on the Internet that he had been arrested. I was shocked. I also finally learned about his lifestyle and thinking these last few years. I am very proud to have that kind of friend.

As a Chinese person, I am also grieved that our country is still unable to guarantee the basic legal rights of its citizens!

Every time the west discusses freedom of speech, I always think they’re being meddlesome. Today I finally have a personal understanding; if a country cannot guarantee the basic rights of its citizens, it concerns each and every one of us!

This is the country of us, the Chinese people. These are our legal rights. We need to strive for them ourselves!

I hope your family can realize that Hao Wu’s arrest, and failure to receive normal trial procedure and legal defense is not an injustice for him alone. Many conscientious, just-minded Chinese people also deeply feel this injustice. We support the efforts of you and your family, and extend our respect!�

Nina’s own thoughts at the end of this post are especially poignant:

In fact, before this happened to my brother, I felt that I had it all: family, friends, a job I liked, and a typical Shanghai “little capitalist� life. I felt that I had the ability to control everything. I could choose the lifestyle I wanted; I could choose my circle of friends…in fact this was just what it looked like. It is so easy for someone to lose his or her privileges. An ordinary person can very easily be taken from his or her daily life. It doesn’t require any warning or reason, and of course it doesn’t require the assent of that person. Legal help is also unavailable. Even though the thirty-sixth clause of the Constitution states, “The physical freedom of the citizens of the People’s Republic of China cannot be violated…it is forbidden to detain or use other methods to take away or limit the physical freedom of a citizen; it is forbidden to illegally search the body of a citizen,� my brother has already lost his freedom. The staff of the Procuratorate did not deny that laws were being broken in the current stage, but no organization or person has stopped these illegal phenomena from continuing.

Really, only when your own rights are violated do you realize their importance to you. I am now beginning to pay attention to law, beginning to look for rights I might have. I hope that it isn’t all too late.

At the same time, I know that I already have lost my right to privacy. I know that they know my every movement. Actually, when you act magnanimously, there is nothing to conceal. I haven’t done anything that I’d be ashamed to show others. I will continue to strive for my brother’s early release. It’s just that I don’t know: when all the legal channels have been exhausted, will anything be left?

What a brave woman. I hope that you’ll take a moment to visit freehaowu and leave your comments of support. Or if you have a blog, and these words inspire you to post about Hao and Nina, please write about them. It feels like a straw in the wind, but we need to keep their story alive.

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The Discussion: 5 Comments

Turing test

April 7, 2006 @ 1:33 pm | Comment

Turing test #2

April 7, 2006 @ 1:34 pm | Comment

Turing test #3

April 7, 2006 @ 1:35 pm | Comment


but when was the last time you saw a useful and procutive govt office?

April 9, 2006 @ 9:09 pm | Comment

鈥淚 was your brother鈥檚 classmate at the University of Science and Technology
Hao Wu graduated from USTC(KeiDa)? have you guys remember one post Richard posted on this blog saying that USTC is one of the democratic source of china?
this confirmed the viewpoint which that post declared.

April 10, 2006 @ 6:57 pm | Comment

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