HONG KONG—Chinese cyber-dissident Huang Qi, just freed after serving a five-year jail term for subversion, says he wants to resume his Web site dedicated to the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown.
“I will do my best to resume the Tianwang Web site,” Huang told RFA’s Mandarin service after his release from prison in China’s southwestern province of Sichuan. “When it was first created it was for very few people. But I now realize that there are many like-minded people.”
Huang, who is seeking medical attention for head injuries from beatings in prison, said he had begun the Tianwang Web site to locate people involved in the 1989 pro-democracy movement on Tiananmen Square and other major Chinese cities. But that task had now expanded far beyond the original scope of the site, he said.
“We realized that some of the problems simply could not be solved by us. We came into contact with many who had been wrongfully prosecuted or sentenced...Some of them had spent years appealing their cases; some had become homeless,” he said. “We wanted to help the disadvantaged to fight for their basic human rights. It was also fighting corruption.”
He blamed a “certain group which looks after its own interests” for his prison sentence, which came after embarrassing allegations of insurance fraud implicating a state-run agency on the Tianwang site, and a range of articles increasingly critical of the government.
“They labeled me a June 4th dissident, a democracy activist, even Falun Gong,” Huang told RFA. “But acts of corruption and violations of human rights in China today are not committed by people who have been given these labels. On the contrary, they are committed by those who invented the labels arbitrarily just to denigrate us.”
To sum it up, the root problem is China’s political system... The free flow of information is the most fundamental guarantor of freedom and democracy.
“My head hurts, because I was injured in the head while in detention,” Huang told RFA’s Mandarin service on his release. “And I wasn’t getting treatment for it. I plan to have it checked in Chengdu in a few days’ time.”
Huang, who was sentenced to five years’ imprisonment for subversion by the Chengdu Intermediate People’s Court in a closed trial Aug. 16, 2001, said he was repeatedly beaten by prison guards because he continued to appeal his conviction.
“I was struck by police while in detention. I never stopped trying to appeal my case, and they never stopped trying to stop me,” Huang told RFA reporter Lin Di. “They were only following orders from their superiors.”
Huang was detained in 2000 after articles on his Web site, www.6-4tianwang.com, angered local officials. The site, which contains a reference to June 4 in its title, was initially set up to track down people who went missing in the 1989 pro-democracy movement and in subsequent crackdowns.
Named as one of the most significant Internet events of 1999 by the official China Youth Daily newspaper, Huang’s legally registered site proved highly successful in helping a wide range of people, with Huang carrying out several investigations himself, and helping to rescue several girls abducted by traffickers.
I will do my best to resume the Tianwang Web site. When it was first created it was for very few people. But I now realize that there are many like-minded people.
Huang said he would try to resume his work on the site once he had received medical treatment. “I will do my best to resume the Tianwang Web site,” he told RFA. “When it was first created it was for very few people. But I now realize that there are many like-minded people.”
Huang said China’s economic reforms had now reached the point where a political breakthrough was possible. “Why hasn’t there been a breakthrough? A key factor is the free flow of information,” he said, adding that fellow prisoners had heard reports of his case broadcast by Radio Free Asia.
“To sum it up, the root problem is China’s political system,” Huang said. “The free flow of information is the most fundamental guarantor of freedom and democracy.”
Paris-based media watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF) awarded its Cyberfreedom Prize to Huang Qi in June 2004.
Original reporting by Lin Di for RFA's Mandarin service. Service director: Jennifer Chou. Written for the Web and produced in English by Luisetta Mudie and Sarah Jackson-Han.