April 6, 2006

Day 43: Rights in China: Guilty until proven innocent?

Filed under: Nina's blog — Rebecca MacKinnon @ 2:33 pm

On Day 43 of Hao Wu’s detention without charge, his sister Nina wrote a blog post titled “Rights“:

Now, every time I see police officers, especially plainclothes officers, I tremble. I uncontrollably tremble. I know this doesn’t come from fright. Rather it gradually developed into a purely physiological phenomenon. In other countries, without conclusive evidence that a suspect is guilty, the suspect is treated as “innocent.” In China, in the “People’s Republic of China Code of Criminal Procedure,” in Section 1: General Principles, Chapter 1: Duties and Basic Principles, clause twelve states: “Without a verdict from the People’s Court, no person can be determined guilty.” It clearly affirms that without a court verdict, all people should legally have the status of “not guilty.” But, in reality, this is not the case. When you go to the police station, the answer is always, “If nothing was wrong with your brother, would the police be following him?” The thoughts of the police inspector gathering evidence are fixed on the issue of committing a crime. The questions he asks my brother’s friends all require imagination. He even told me directly that my brother had committed a crime, but he could not explain why. The officer I asked repeatedly at the Public Security Bureau Petition Office also told me directly that my brother had committed a crime, but could not explain what crime he was suspected of… Ah. Once the police take notice, the suspect has already been labeled “guilty.” The relatives can only passively wait, and cannot assert their right to know the facts of the case.

All these thoughts originated from a comment from my brother’s classmate after hearing what had happened to him:

“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!”

I never thought that something like this would happen in my own family because we are too ordinary. Exactly because we are ordinary, the shock and pain was even greater. It was even harder to believe. I believe that Haozi’s friends feel the same way. Here is another passage from an email.

“Over the past 4 years that I know Hao, he is always a very non-political person. He is just an artist in his heart. This is what make the news particularly shocking!”

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?

April 5, 2006

Nina on day 42: The City Government Petition Office & Pain

Filed under: Nina's blog — Rebecca MacKinnon @ 5:48 pm

On April 4th Nina wrote this anguished post:

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?

When I sat down in a chair to rest and let my mood re-balance, that group of strong men gradually dissolved.  The final “suit” left after observing me for a long time.  When I was preparing to go back to the window and ask for more advice, I was held up by the never-ending moral reasoning of a forty year-old gentleman nearly unable to support himself.  I noticed that the group of men had returned to the main hall.  More employees joined them, one after another, from the offices and outside.  Was this big posture just for that agitated unemployed worker?  Was something else important happening today?  Before I sorted out the situation, a phone call from an old classmate forced me to leave the clamorous petition hall.  Goodness!  Besides a row of police cars outside the entrance, there was a bus too.  While talking on the phone, those middle-aged, strong men that had appeared in the main hall successively passed by me, looking me over, and getting on and off the bus.  It seemed like continuing to stay there wasn’t going to help anything, and my nerves were getting more and more frayed.  After weighing the options, I resolutely left that noisy, hopeless place.

Yesterday was an especially chaotic and overwhelming day.  All kinds of information were coming out, different voices were speaking in my ear, and I had to evaluate them and make decisions.  Time was not giving me much room to maneuver.  My taut nerves were constantly taking on new burdens.  At the end, I started to suspect that a feather would be enough to snap them, and make me break down.  While eating dinner, I couldn’t help but tell my friends: I am so scared!  I am scared that any decision I make might cause irrevocable losses for my brother.  In fact, living with the thoughts of an ordinary person is happy.  Living as a thinker implies that you will fall constantly deeper into the suffering of thought.  My brother is not as he appears from the outside, often sunny and strong.  He has a sensitive, sentimental heart.  When he observes and thinks about social problems, his body is affected by his feelings, and he feels the pain of those involved.  Because of our blood relation, I can feel his pain and suffering, but am unable to help.  The two times I have cried hardest in my life were for my brother.  He has already become a permanent kind of anguish in my heart.  Sometimes, I wish that he were not so outstanding, that he could be more ordinary.  Then he could enjoy the happiness of an ordinary person.  But my brother is my brother.  I can only feel proud of him through my anguish.

It’s already very late.  I have a splitting headache, and no more energy to type.  I can only put yesterday’s diary down for today.  Today is still a sunny day.  Besides some appointments made a while ago, what I was planning for did not happen.  That’s good news, right?  I am accustomed to being busy.  I don’t know what to do when it’s calm.  I sincerely hope that the last two weeks has an early settlement.  I am already nearly unable to bear the weight of this life, especially taking responsibility for my brother’s life.

Further note from Day 41: More about Hao

Filed under: Nina's blog — Rebecca MacKinnon @ 1:45 am

Nina’s final post for the day on April 3rd reflects the anxiety and terrible stress of not knowing what the authorities have done with your brother or why:


Yesterday my husband in Shanghai got sick. This morning I also awoke with a splitting headache. Could we have both caught the flu? Perhaps it’s that the problem with my brother has left us mentally and physically exhausted.

Friends are consistently calling and writing emails to offer their help. I now have some regret about keeping a low profile earlier. Things might have been different if everyone had known about this earlier and been able to help us then.

Since questions friends have started to ask all center on “What happened to Haozi?” I will repost the Chinese translation by a kindhearted friend from an English website. I hope it is helpful. After my call from Haozi on March 16, I have not received any phone calls or messages from him. This is one reason we are extremely anxious now.

The rest of the post is the Chinese version of our original post: About Hao Wu’s Case.

April 4, 2006

Supervisory Office of the Beijing Public Security Bureau

Filed under: Nina's blog — Rebecca MacKinnon @ 6:59 pm

On the same day as the previous entry posted below, Nina Wu also wrote:

Supervisory Office of the Beijing Public Security Bureau:

Regarding the Beijing public security organ’s initiation of an investigation into Hao Wu (male, born April 1972, profession: “documentary filmmaker”, residing in this city, Chaoyang district XXXX garden XXXX) for suspected violation of the law (the alleged crime is as yet unknown) on procedural problems in the handling of the case by the organs responsible, Beijing XXXX Law Firm reports as follows:

On February 22, 2006 Hao Wu was taken away by policemen of this bureau.  Wu’s relatives submitted written objections to this bureau and his local Chaoyang Branch PSB on March 18, asking for a reply about Wu’s alleged crimes and his current condition.  They did not receive a reply.  On March 20, Wu’s relatives inquired at the Beijing PSB.  They only received the reply that Wu had been detained, but were still not informed of his alleged crimes or the location of his detention.

Under these conditions, Hao Wu’s sister Na Wu sought legal assistance from the Beijing XXXX Law Firm.  Our firm accepted her request, and according to law assigned two lawyers to the investigation stage for the detained and suspected Hao Wu, providing him with legal assistance.  However, due to their inability to ascertain Wu’s alleged crime, the organ handling the case, and the location of Wu’s detention, our firm submitted a letter on March 21 to the Legal Office of the Beijing PSB, requesting assistance in making contact, at the same time submitting requests to meet the detained suspect and initiating the [legal representative] retention procedure.  We hoped to urge the relevant organs in this case to promptly set a time to meet the suspect.  Afterwards, a media outlet reported that this case was being handled by the Beijing PSB National Security Unit.  However, our firm has yet to receive any reply from the Beijing PSB.

On March 29, Hao Wu’s sister Na Wu again visited the petition bureau of the Beijing PSB.  She inquired into the crime that Hao Wu was suspected of, the organ handling the case, and the location of his detention, but was again denied the information.

We believe: the procedures followed in this case are contrary to regulations in the “Code of Criminal Procedure.”  They also do not adhere to the “Regulations on Lawyer’s Visits to Suspects in Detention and Related Issues of the Defendant”(trial version) co-issued by the Beijing Supreme People’s Court, Beijing People’s Procuratorate, Beijing PSB, Beijing State Security Bureau, and Beijing Administration of Justice, as well as the “Bulletin on Further Safeguarding the Professional Rights of Lawyers” and “Thirty Measures on the Standards of Civilized Law Enforcement” of the Beijing PSB.

1. According to regulations in the “Code of Criminal Procedure”, suspects can retain a lawyer to provide legal assistance, offer representation for appeals, and make complaints after the first interrogation by the investigative agency or on the same day that coercive measures are first taken.  The lawyers retained have the right to learn the suspected crime from the organ responsible.  They can meet with the suspect in detention, and learn relevant details from the suspect.

2.  According to regulations in the “Code of Criminal Procedure,” the investigating organ can criminally detain someone for a maximum of 30 days before requesting for approval to make an arrest.  However, in this case, coercive measures have been employed to limit Hao Wu’s physical freedom for over 37 days.

3.  According to relevant Beijing city regulations, in the investigative stage, “In cases that do not involve state secrets, the organ handling the case should issue an official letter about meeting with the lawyer and arrange for the meeting within 48 hours of a request to meet with the suspect.”

4.  Even if lawyers cannot learn of the crimes of which Hao Wu is suspected, during the investigation stage, even in cases involving state secrets, the organ handling the case, “If not permitting a meeting, should provide the lawyers with a “Notice on Not Permitting a Meeting With Suspect in Detention” and explain its reasons.”

In view of the above, according to relevant regulations, we report this to the Supervisory Office of this bureau, and request that the relevant departments be charged with rapidly correcting their inappropriate behavior, safeguarding the lawyer’s execution of professional duties according to law, and safeguarding the procedural rights of the accused.


Beijing XXXX Law Firm

March 31, 2006

cc: Beijing Lawyer Association Committee on Safeguarding Rights and Interests

April 3, 2006

Day 41: Nina corrects misperceptions, responds to naysayers

Filed under: Nina's blog — Rebecca MacKinnon @ 3:34 pm

On April 3rd Nina wrote:

Firm beliefs

As Hao Wu’s relative, I originally wanted to keep a low profile. But once I realized that the situation was already out of my control, remaining silent became impossible. Especially because of some ambiguities in articles from media outlets and blogs, we believe that we need to say a few things:

1. Hao Wu is not a “believer” or a “Christian.” Until his detention he had never held any religious beliefs.

2. Hao Wu is not a media worker. He is just an independent filmmaker and a blogger.

3. Hao Wu does not have political tendencies. He just truthfully expresses his views on certain social problems.

4. The authorities have not yet provided a reason for detaining Hao Wu. His relatives believe that he is completely innocent.

As family members and friends search for Hao Wu, shadows of those who do not care about Haozi appeared among the ranks.

When appeals to “Free Hao Wu” first appeared on the Internet, I visited some of the relevant sites. In the comments, “C:”, who is from an unknown location, for unknown reasons wrote “Trash like Hao Wu should be detained earlier.” Unfortunately I have never had the opportunity to seek enlightenment from “C:” face-to-face. Today I want to use this blog to have a discussion with him or her:

1. Every person, no matter in which corner of the planet they reside, has his or her own dignity, and cannot be absurdly referred to as “trash”, right?

2. This Mr. or Ms. “C:”, besides this part of the comment, does not mention Hao Wu in any other way. I wonder whether he or she has seen Haozi’s movies or read his articles? If not, then logically speaking, isn’t this unreasonably jumping to conclusions?

3. If even Haozi is classified as a kind of “trash”, how many people on the planet are left standing?

4. Whether to detain someone is not the decision of this sir or madam, nor can it be decided by Hao’s relatives or any individual. Instead, it should be decided according to the law, following legal procedures. Today, not a single related agency has provided a legitimate explanation [for Hao Wu’s detention]. Can this sir or madam offer the reasons for Hao Wu’s detention from a legal perspective?

Before dawn today, I visited http://ethanzuckerman.com/haowu. I discovered that a “Jessica Copeland” has been extremely active, but her interest was not in my brother, but rather in Guantanamo detainees. In fact:

1. The majority of participants in the discussion and I believe that detention of those in Guantanamo is inappropriate. Continuing to discuss this is meaningless.

2. When criticizing something that is wrong, how can you turn a blind eye to another wrong that is currently under discussion? If the US government did trample on the rights of Guantanamo detainees, can the Chinese police ignore the rights of Hao Wu and his family?

3. Without any conclusive factual foundation, on what do you base your conclusion that the Hao Wu case hides other secrets? Is it possible that she has her own sources of information?

As Haozi’s sister, I believe in Haozi’s conduct, and I believe he has never done anything to harm other people or society. As my family and I search for Haozi, we have the support of many friends. We do not know in which year and which month we will learn of his freedom. We do not know when we will see him again. But our faith in Haozi will support us to the end.

Day 39: Nina and Hao’s father

Filed under: Nina's blog — Rebecca MacKinnon @ 12:13 pm

On on April 1st, Nina Wu writes of a conversation with their father, who still hasn’t been told about Hao’s detention:

Just before going out, the apartment telephone rang again.  I picked it up without hesitation.  It was my father’s voice.  I hurriedly told him to wait a minute.  I didn’t know what to do.  My friend took the phone and calmly told my father that Hao Wu had gone far away to film a movie, and there was no cell phone signal in the remote mountain villages.  I don’t know if my father believed this or not, or whether he recognized my voice when I first answered (I had told him that I was in Dalian on business.)  My father rarely calls my brother’s apartment.  He has definitely sensed that something is not right.  I was terrified all day, afraid that some accident had happened, but I still didn’t dare to call home.

Our father played a critical role in our development.


Our father always taught my brother and me to be “upright, honest and kind.”  I clearly remember the one time I was punished by him.  It was when I told lies because I liked to play around.  The lesson he taught was made such a big impression that, throughout my development, I didn’t dare to behave dishonestly again.My father practiced what he preached.  He always remained true to these principles; everyone recognized him as an example of a fine person.  As a child, my father was always an object of my admiration.  He ranked number two, just behind the respected and loved Zhou Enlai.  My father’s life cannot be summarized by ‘success’ in the normal sense of the word, but he succeeded in being a pure man of clear conscience.

I pursue a life philosophy of “Be a good person first.”  For behaving in a simple manner I have suffered hardships, and for being inflexible in my work I have rammed my head against the wall, but in different stages of my life I have accumulated different things.  My life has been tranquil and content along the way.

My father’s teachings are most vividly realized in my younger brother.  His generosity has won him a large group of friends.  Outside of work, my kind brother actively raised funds to support the Hope elementary school in our hometown.  His virtue compels him to pay attention to and reflect on social problems, and use his pen and camera to honestly record it all.  He has a just heart, which makes him capable of rationally and objectively approaching, considering, and analyzing problems.

I don’t know how my father will react when he finds out about my brother.  Will he regret teaching my brother to be too “upright and honest”?   Will he regret that he did not teach us to follow the middle path?  I hope that my father will not blame himself for this.  Actually, we should thank him.  For having these convictions, more than thirty years of our lives have been lived so happily.  Furthermore, we have a third generation that needs instruction.  My daughter needs to learn from the older generation how to be a real “person,” a “person” with who is responsible to society.  I believe that the lessons of my father will be passed on.  I hope that I can see the day when my daughter also becomes an upright, honest and kind person.


In the eyes of others, both my brother and I are examples of excellence, but my brother much more so than I.  In the well-known key middle school of our hometown, his name was better known than mine.  He was always the first in his class, while I was at best fifth.  He sang better than I did, danced better than I did, and his English topped it all off.  He is so much better than me because he is both more patient and more persistent.
When we were young, we practiced brush calligraphy together.  The minute that the adults stopped minding us, I slipped away to play, while my brother could persist for the entire afternoon of a scorching summer vacation day.  He persisted for years, until he could finally write beautiful characters, while to this day my own writing twists threateningly on the paper.  All my family members have weak hearts, but my brother persisted in silently practicing distance running on the school track.  By the time he graduated he ran the 800 meters quite well, while I barely passed muster with the help of my friends.  My brother liked art, and during summer vacations he arranged for the opportunity to attend summer art classes.  To this day his painting ability greatly exceeds my own.  My brother’s English is often praised as miraculous by foreigners, but I know how he practiced to achieve this level of expertise.  From a young age he persisted in attending English corners events, actively practicing his spoken English with foreign teachers.  Even after moving to the US, when he was already fluent, he persisted in looking up the words he didn’t understand from TV.  Besides this, he persevered in recording his daily thoughts and feelings.  By February of this year, he had already filled over ten journals (unfortunately, they were taken by the police.)

Perhaps in intelligence, and grasp of things, I might exceed my brother.  I am not jealous of his excellence, because I understand that his gift is persistence.  Due to his persistence in pursuing his artistic dreams, after taking the path of scientific research counseled by my father, he actively took part in artistic and recreational activities in his spare time.  Due to his persistence, after studying and working in the United States for over ten years, he gave everything up to return to China and realize his dream.  Due to his persistence, his first movie—Beijing or Bust—was born, he was able to make independent documentary films in the materialistic China of today, and he was able to write, after profound reflection, essay after essay on his blog.

Will my brother, now like a bird with folded wings, still be able to persist in flying toward his dream?  We hope he will.

P.S.  Today I received two text messages…I believed both of them and turned on the TV looking for the news.  Later I realized that they were just April Fool’s Day jokes.   When will I receive the message “Hao Wu has been released”?

April 1, 2006

Day 38: Nina’s visit to the police

Filed under: Nina's blog — Rebecca MacKinnon @ 1:24 pm

Nina Wu continues to document her efforts to get information about her brother’s case in her latest blog entry, “Police station.”

I once talked to a friend who had a similar experience. Both of us disliked going to the Public Security Bureau or police station. Every visit was emotionally torturous. After coming out we always felt even more helpless and bleak. To public security personnel, this is just one of thousands or tens of thousands of cases they deal with. You can see the indifference of repetition on their faces. But to us, our loved ones are 100%, an indispensable part of our own world of happiness. The cruel contrast between hopes and reality can put you into the cold depths of hell.But, in order to learn about my brother, I could only clench my teeth and go back to the police station. Luckily, the old police officer who received me helped me reach the one officer who showed me his identification when I first met the police, Officer Zhang. When I asked to see the officer in charge of the case, he refused, as expected. He told me that the last time already brought him a great deal of trouble. Not all police in the world are cold-hearted. He patiently gave me my first class on how police work a case. The Beijing Public Security Department Internal Security Office was responsible for my brother’s case. Should I celebrate that that it isn’t as serious as cases relating to national security? But it’s not as simple as a common criminal case? Is it a political case? But I know that my brother has absolutely no political tendencies. All these possibilities exceeded the scope of officer Zhang’s ability to answer. My heart softened, and I let him hang up the phone. With a soft heart, it’s impossible to accomplish anything important. Before, I was soft, so I couldn’t do investment banking. Now I’m soft, and I can’t get any information about my brother? Tears of failure streamed down my face; my fatigued body couldn’t take another step. Watching the hurried masses going in and out of the police station, I felt inwardly vexed: besides his relatives and friends, did anyone care about Haozi’s disappearance?

Outside, I have the support of a husband, friends and lawyers. Inside, my brother cannot read or receive any information from outside. Isn’t he even more alone and helpless? I must remain firm. I can’t break down before my brother does. Just as I believe that my brother has a generous and loving heart, I will always believe that my brother is innocent. I only hope that his honest personality will not bring him too much hardship and suffering.

March 31, 2006

Day 37: Nina writes: “My brother’s and my life”

Filed under: Nina's blog — Rebecca MacKinnon @ 4:39 am

Nina Wu has written her second blog post: “My brother’s and my life.” Read it and share her pain. Thanks again to our anonymous translator, we have the whole thing in English below. Among other things, she describes a stolen laptop, the circumstances of which sound rather fishy.

My brother’s and my life

March 30, 2006

When I got up today my eyes were swollen into two big walnuts. I had to wear sunglasses out. Luckily, it was bright outside, and the sun felt good on my body. I squinted and looked at the sky. The Beijing sky is much worse than Shanghai’s, but I remembered how I used to rise early and return late. When did I last have time to look up at the sky? I shouldn’t be too demanding. There was a din along Dawang road where the old houses were being demolished. Remembering the innumerable times my little brother walked among the noisy mass of people, I felt close to him again. I greedily looked over every street peddler, every pile of rubble. Brother, are you lucky enough to see this bright and beautiful day? Do you know that your sister is walking on the same street you walked on so many times before? When I thought that he may be locked in a dark room, without any view or news of the outside world, my mood darkened too.
My notebook computer

In the afternoon, I dialed the phone number I had dialed so many times before. This time, I finally learned that it was the criminal investigation division of the Shanghai Public Security Bureau. It was the same woman who I spoke to the first time, but her tone of voice was much different from before. This time she said that I needed to wait for further notification. Thinking back on the experience of
losing my laptop, it was difficult to believe. In the afternoon on March 8, International Women’s Day, as I came out of a security and commerce meeting in the International Convention Center, I decided to buy some fruit for my daughter in Lotus Supercenter in Zhengda Squre.
In the few seconds when I stooped to collect my oranges, the shopping cart next to me had disappeared. The laptop and clothes had disappeared too, without a trace, having evaporated into the crowd.
There was no one near me, and I immediately asked the store clerk behind me whether she had seen anyone pushing away my shopping cart.
She shook her head. A few minutes later, I explained the situation to the supermarket guards, asking them to help me search, and I also went to the customer service desk to report the situation. After searching the first floor of the supermarket, I was back where I started. The clerk had already left, and just a few steps from where I lost my cart I discovered my shopping cart. The clothes were still there, but my HP notebook had disappeared. It seemed like this experience was going to come to a close after filling out a report in the Lujiazui police station. But that wasn’t the case. On March 22, the second day after I returned to Shanghai, I received a call from the police officer above, telling me that my computer may have been found, but I needed to tell them the serial number to prove that it was my own. I told her that the back of my computer had the company’s product registration number. You could even just plug in the computer and check whether the login name was mine or not. The female officer could only tell me that my computer may have been found by a public security bureau outside the city, but I needed to offer proof. I was overjoyed, and went to some trouble to find the serial number to tell her, but I heard nothing else after that. Every time I dialed the number, men answered. None of them knew of my case, and none would tell me which department they were from.

Sentimental songs

While eating dinner in a restaurant with a friend, I heard an old song that expressed my feelings. It basically said: thinking of yesterday from here, my heart silently hopes that you’ll suddenly appear in front of me… Thinking of past business trips to Beijing, when I would try to have a meal with my brother, sometimes with friends and sometimes just the two of us. Now I could not have the extravagant hope that he would appear at the dinner table. That scene of wild laughter and debate would not appear. It was also hard for me to find that happy feeling of being a youthful woman again. I sighed, and my friend patted my shoulder. Everyone already knows that a tranquil life is so far from me now.

A father forever

Worried about my father, that night I decided to call our family home.

Both my father’s and my brother’s birthdays are in April. Despite our parents’ claims that our kindly feelings were enough, my brother would never forget any of our birthdays. If my brother didn’t call at the right time, or my parents couldn’t offer him birthday wishes over the phone, and my lies will no longer be tenable. Worrying about how my parents’ ill bodies would deal with that blow, I absentmindedly wondered what to do. Fortunately I hadn’t told my parents that I was in Beijing. Otherwise, I would certainly be subject to their questions about Haozi’s situation.

The apartment telephone, which hadn’t been used in a long time, rang.

It was New York Public Television. They wanted to show one of my brother’s movies, Beijing or Bust, but they could not reach him. I told them to read the paper or the Internet to hear what had happened.

I already lack the power to tell my brother’s story again.

Why does fate torture people? It suddenly plucked my brother from his life, and made me live in his apartment, meet his friends, read his books, and listen to his CDs. I have felt every breath of his past life, but I can’t be by his side. I deal with inquiries about his life by myself. I can’t be the core of my brother’s life. I’m too tired; let my brother come home again. Please let his life continue.

March 30, 2006

Day 36: Hao’s sister is blogging.

Filed under: News, Nina's blog — Rebecca MacKinnon @ 3:49 pm

Hao’s sister Nina Wu has now started a blog on MSN Spaces. It includes a photo gallery of “Haozi” as the family calls him. Even if you don’t know Chinese, leave her a comment in English and let her know your support for Hao. Thanks to a volunteer who wishes to remain anonymous, we have a full translation of her first post, below. She includes an update on her latest visit to the police. It is a chilling account of what it’s like to be the family member of a Chinese person who has been detained without charge. I have put a few key paragraphs in bold:

Ever since I found “Where is Hu Jia?” (http://spaces.msn.com/zengjinyan/) on Google, Jinyan’s blog was a rest stop for my soul. I would often read her diary and the comments following it, sharing her joys and sorrows, as I too had experienced the pain and confusion after the disappearance of a loved one. Now, Hu Jia has returned. I am wholeheartedly happy for [Jinyan] and her family, and I will continue to search for my brother. With the support of my friends, I believe that I will also wait for the day when I can smile again.

I had never thought that I, after becoming an adult, would write anything besides research reports and investment records. In high school I experienced the embarrassment of someone secretly reading my diary, and I also read and heard many stories about diaries during the Cultural Revolution. After twenty, I stopped trusting the pen to record my own thoughts and feelings. Perhaps because work is so time-consuming, I only knew about the most popular blogs on the Internet, but I had never visited one myself. After my brother disappeared, I visited his blog, Beijing or Bust (spaces.msn.com/chinafool/), for the first time. Once I started I couldn’t control myself, and read his stories one after another.

My own writing has always been weak, and composition gave me even more of a headache. But now I believe that true feelings will leap onto the keyboard, as I type out the characters of my family and friends who miss Wu Hao. These feelings do not require eloquence or adornment. They just need to be faithfully recorded. I hope it can fill in for the “I love you, brother,” that is usually so hard for me to say.

Having always been proud of my enthusiasm for my job, I had hoped to remain as dedicated to my work as before, but I still left the Shenyin & Wanguo Spring Investment Strategy Conference early to drive to the petition office of the Beijing Public Security Bureau. I hoped that after Hu Jia had returned home I could get information about my brother.

This time they did not ask me to fill out paperwork. It was the same officer as last time. He and another one promised to get in touch with the officer in charge of the case. After coming in and out many times and waiting, I never met the officer in charge. I only received a message: Wu Hao has committed a crime (When I came on March 20, they only told me that Wu Hao had been arrested.) They still refused to inform me what crime he was suspected of, and also refused to allow our lawyer to see him. Threatening to go to the Ministry of Public Security was also useless.

Can these law enforcement organs really ignore his rights and those of his relatives, and after detaining him for five weeks not offer any explanation? Anger swelled in my chest.

When I heard that the repeated promises of a deadline for my brother’s release from the previous employee in-charge were just “one of the working techniques” I nearly burst with fury.

That dignified state employees would carelessly trample on someone’s dignity, that a promise to a family member could be torn to shreds like wastepaper—what powers did the law grant them? Thinking about it, the people I dealt with never showed police credentials (despite repeated requests), and never called each other by name. I only know that the lead officer is surnamed Sun. After graduating from police academy he spent some time as a teacher, and then moved to this job for (?) [sic] 15 years. Even this limited information might be false. I was angry at myself for my political naïveté, and angry at this place that displayed the police insignia but did not actually “Serve the People.”

Finally, I got in an argument with the guard over using the restroom.

It was all about regulations. It was all about protecting secrets.

Why didn’t they dare to write it down? I needed to vent my anger, but finally I just ran out sobbing. I couldn’t make trouble for the insignificant guard and staff. In vast Beijing, finding a place where people can talk sense and speak clearly is terribly difficult.

In the evening, while eating dinner with friends, I found out that a friend had a terrifying experience this afternoon. He tried calling me and J for a long time, but the call wouldn’t go through. He worried that we had had an accident. Thankfully, he persisted in dialing the number until the call went through. Only then was his mind at ease. It was strange, because at the time I was in XXXX’s [sic] hall, where the cell phone signal was excellent, but my phone didn’t ring. I checked the call record but there were no missed calls. Why didn’t it go through? I thought about it and realized that other friends also complained that I wasn’t answering my phone.

Very fishy. Finally, like a martyr saying her final words, I gave my friends contact information for my husband and my former employer. I felt disconnected from reality, like in a novel. Would anything really happen? I had thought that a person disappearing without a trace was something that only happened in novels, but hadn’t that already happened in real life too?

I had to give my daughter a call. When she said “Mommy” over the phone, my tears began to flow again. As she, completely unaware of what was happening, excitedly reported her dancing achievements and progress in class, I was silently apologizing to her. Mom has been missing too often. Mom really wants to hold your little body, share every little thing that happens at school, and read to you. I hope that everything ends quickly, and your uncle can come back soon. Then Mom can hold your little hand again.

Thank you, Huang. I did not want what happened in my life to disrupt the lives of my friends, but you still learned that information from the World Journal Even if you can’t help, your phone call let me feel the warmth of friendship in the cold Beijing spring.

I hope that friends can use this blog to enter my life, searching for my brother in 2006.

Thanks to Geoffrey Fowler of the Wall Street Journal for his story today: China’s Detention of Filmmaker Rouses Fears over Curbs on Media. (The story is accessible without a subscription.) Key excerpt (emphasis added):

Mr. Wu’s sister, Nina Wu, said the Beijing Public Security Bureau’s petition office confirmed Mr. Wu had been detained but won’t specify any charges against him. “His dream is in China,” she said. “His dream is for speaking out freely, and for making films….He knows there are some problems here, but he loves China and thinks things are getting better and better.”

In response to questions from The Wall Street Journal about why Mr. Wu was detained, the Public Security Ministry and the State Council Information Office said they are looking into the matter.

A half-dozen friends and colleagues who have known Mr. Wu for about 20 years, both in China and the U.S., describe him as outgoing and principled and said he hasn’t had problems with drugs or the law. What might have spurred the arrest, they said, is the film Mr. Wu had been working on for several months about underground churches. They said that on Feb. 24 Mr. Wu’s editing equipment and several videotapes were removed from his apartment.

The Chinese government really shoots itself in the foot by detaining people like Hao.