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?

10 Comments »

  1. Dear Mr. Zuckerman,

    Thank you so much for passing my comment to Na Wu! I would like to write back to her: I am very moved by her blog. I only hate that I don’t know what I can do to help, except spreading the news far and near.

    ======================
    Dear Na Wu,
    读道你的“权利”,很感动。
    我也在问同样的问题:我们国家的法律是怎么讲的?我听说有专家建议以法律的程序办案,但是公安局不同意。
    这些天我一直在想,怎么能使我们的国家,从老百姓到上级领导,都意识到基本法律保护的重要?我不知道!感到无能!我问身边的朋友,没人知道。
    我能理解你感到的无助!但至少多了几个人理解了法律的重要。当越来越多的人认识到了中国的法律问题,也许我们都有希望了。
    请相信,远方的朋友们和你一起关注吴皓!我们尽我们的努力!

    Comment by YW — April 7, 2006 @ 1:37 am

  2. Nina, we are still supporting you and wishing the best for Hao every moment.
    love and hugs.

    Comment by s — April 7, 2006 @ 3:44 am

  3. Dear Nina,

    I don’t know what to say. I CANNOT BELIEVE that Wu Hao has been arrested. As a friend of Wu Hao’s, and as a friend of the Chinese people, I feel totally depressed about Wu Hao’s detention.

    DEPRESSED.

    After he was arrested, I went back and read most of his blogs, and I read about what he was shooting. And still find it unbelievable that he was arrested.

    This doesn’t make sense.

    They’ve detained Wu Hao for almost two months now, denied him access to a lawyer, are actively breaking their own laws by keeping him like this, and still they can’t even reveal what mysterious “crime” he committed? They can’t let him see his family, or a lawyer?

    I wish that the Chinese police would spend more time solving murders or catching thieves.

    If they are spending so much time arresting people whose only crime is that they speak or write, then how can they possibly catch real criminals?

    “Dear China,” I wish to scream, “please stop acting like a scared little child! You are one of the greatest nations on the planet, and yet you’re afraid of mere words?! You invented paper! And printing! You invented one of the oldest, greatest writing systems in the world, and yet you can’t handle a few blog entries?”

    This simply doesn’t make any sense. Wu Hao is filled with compassion and concern for his fellow human being and for his society.

    He has all the ideals currently being advertised by the most recent slogan, the Eight Do’s and Don’ts.

    Wu Hao is an great example of someone who exemplifies all the Eight Do’s!

    China should be proud of this man.

    If Wu Hao’s actions or writings made someone unhappy, then they should have taken him out to dinner and told him so. In a civil manner. That’s the Chinese way, right?

    If only the people who arrested Wu Hao could exemplify the same qualities of hard work, compassion, service, fairness, patriotism, respect for law and tolerance that the government asks from its people.

    A family should love its children. I repeat: A family should love its children. Always. A family should love, protect and cherish its children. Or else, it is no family at all.

    Nina, you inspire me. Your love for your brother and your ability to stand up and speak on his behalf is extremely moving. You have great courage, and you give many others a piece of that courage too.

    If I were Chinese, I would be very proud to be Chinese because of you.

    As a friend of the Chinese people, I truly hope that Wu Hao is being treated well and that the powers-that-be will come to their senses and let him go. Whatever “crime” he committed, I don’t think it was necessary to take it this far.

    This is not the way to serve the people.

    Bruce

    Comment by bruce — April 7, 2006 @ 2:27 pm

  4. […] Nina’s wrestling with a set of emotions I can’t really imagine. In a recent, translated post, she notes that it’s forced her to examine her relatively comfortable “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. […]

    Pingback by …My heart’s in Accra » A petition for Hao Wu’s release… and some uncomfortable thoughts on habeas corpus — April 14, 2006 @ 11:39 pm

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    Comment by credit-card-debt-help — May 31, 2006 @ 10:34 am

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