'Staying Silent in This Country Doesn't Solve Anything'

Undated photos of Chinese activists hauled to court in recent days. Clockwise from upper left: Liu Yuandong, Zhao Changqing, Xu Zhiyong, Ding Jiaxi, Yuan Dong, Hou Xin, Li Wei and Zhang Baocheng.
Photos courtesy of Human Rights in China (www.hrichina.org/en).

Last month, a court in Beijing convicted anti-graft activists Yuan Dong, Ding Jiaxi, Li Wei, and Zhang Baocheng for "gathering a crowd to disrupt public order," a day after the sentencing of prominent dissident Xu Zhiyong, a co-founder of their New Citizens' Movement, to four years' imprisonment on the same charges. Ding's wife, Luo Shengchun, spoke to RFA's Mandarin Service about the background to her husband's trial after he called on ruling Chinese Communist Party leaders to reveal their assets:

On April 17, [2013], they came to our home [in Beijing] at about 7:00 p.m., and they took him away at about 10:00 p.m. I had been worried for some time, but I was still very surprised. I didn't think they would actually take him away, because they had been many times before [to warn him off his activism.]

The first time this happened ... I was very, very frightened. I watched them put him into their vehicle and take him away. They took him away in the morning and didn't bring him back until the evening, but I was able to stay in touch with him the whole time via text message, and he kept telling me not to worry. I told him I was scared, but then it blew over.

But from then onwards, they wouldn't let him go and visit friends elsewhere in China, whether for business or personal reasons. [There was another time] when they held him for 48 hours before they brought him back. I was overseas at the time and I told him that they'd probably already got him on a blacklist, but he still thought there was nothing to worry about. But then he was detained on April 17.

Path to activism

We were classmates in grad school. We have been married a very long time, since October 1993. He thought in high school that it would be really cool to work with airplanes and stuff, so he signed up to study it. After he graduated, he went to work in the research department of an aerospace company. I went straight to grad school, but he didn't sign up for a research degree until he had been in work two years. I can understand why [he chose to change his career], because back then he didn't know what he liked doing ... Later ... he told me he wanted to be a lawyer.

But after he had worked at the same law firm for 10 years, right after he celebrated his 10th anniversary with all his colleagues, he began to feel that lawyers had no social status ... The authorities closed down a lot of his blogs and stuff like that, and he began to feel more and more that this regime was unacceptable. You see, he had wanted to be a lawyer to bring about change; to make a contribution to society.

'We will continue to argue'

The greatest injustice during his trial lay in the fact that they wouldn't show the evidence—videos and recordings—that were presented at the trial, which was very short ... They wouldn't allow a second appeal, and ... they wouldn't allow him to finish his statement in his own defense, similar to the trial of [New Citizens' Movement founder] Xu Zhiyong.

I haven't agreed to any [deals] with [the authorities], because staying silent in this country doesn't solve anything. We will continue to argue for his innocence.

Of course, from the outset I had hoped he would enter a guilty plea so as to be allowed to come home sooner ... but I don't think he'll cave in, because his view is that he's done nothing wrong.

Reported by Tang Qiwei for RFA's Mandarin Service. Translated by Luisetta Mudie.


Add your comment by filling out the form below in plain text. Comments are approved by a moderator and can be edited in accordance with RFAs Terms of Use. Comments will not appear in real time. RFA is not responsible for the content of the postings. Please, be respectful of others' point of view and stick to the facts.