Close

Donate today to keep Global Voices strong!

Watch the video: We Are Global Voices!

We report on 167 countries. We translate in 35 languages. We are Global Voices. Watch the video »

Over 800 of us from all over the world work together to bring you stories that are hard to find by yourself. But we can’t do it alone. Even though most of us are volunteers, we still need your help to support our editors, our technology, outreach and advocacy projects, and our community events.

Donate now »
GlobalVoices in Learn more »

China: Lawyers denied visit to detained blogger Hu Jia

Here's a Facebook app waiting to happen: can you name all 51 bloggers currently doing time in Chinese prisons? Any guesses what #52′s last blog post will have been about?

For house-arrested Hu Jia in Beijing, it was his firsthand news last week that Guangzhou-based Zhang Qing, wife of imprisoned lawyer Guo Feixiong, had on Dec. 26 discovered that the roughly USD 1,000 left in her bank account had disappeared. No time like the present, Hu Jia was arrested the next day in the middle of a Skype chat while his wife Zeng Jinyan was in the bathroom giving their month-old baby a bath. Ten or more police had forced their way in, disconnected all communications in the house, and left, placing 24 year-old Zeng and baby under house arrest, where they most likely still remain today.

Despite Zeng having been chosen last year as one of the world's most influential people, the couple doesn't get blogged about much in China.

Which is not to say never; blogger-historian and book critic Ran Yunfei chose Hu as one of China's ten people of 2007 in his Jan. 2 post:

如果要使我们国家有良好的变革势头,一定得有更多的中国人不懈努力。不是哪几个精英人物,振臂一呼,应者云集,就可以解决纷繁复杂的社会问题的。就像厦门问题,如果单是连岳和赵玉芬等知识分子的努力,没有厦门人民的抗议与散步,整体的议价与博弈能力都不够。但厦门人民抗议与散步,都是理智而有序的,非常值得中国所有地方的民众学习,同时厦门官方的做法,也值得许多地方政府乃至中央政府从中总结经验与教训。

官方评价他们所认可的人物,与我当然不一样。我认可的这些人物,是认可他们不懈的精神与理性的努力,是因为共同的民主自由的诉求。我选这十大人物中,据我所知,有三位如郭飞熊、陈光诚、胡佳身陷囹圄,在这新年之际,我祝福他们早日获得自由,也祝他们维权与反抗所播下的种子,在中国大地上更多的开花发芽。

我所选者,排名当然不分先后,而且单只有这十名也还不能罄尽我心目中的中国人物,但没办法,名额总得有所限制。给他们所作的评价,皆是一时急就,也未必允当,但表达我的敬意而已。希望2008年的中国人民,灾难更少,幸福更多。

If our country is ever to change for the better, more Chinese people must be working tirelessly toward that. A few elites raising their arms and shouting, even when gathered, are not going to be able to solve the many and complicated social problems. Just like with the problem in Xiamen, if it had only been intellectuals like Zhao Yufen and Lian Yue making efforts, and if the people of Xiamen hadn't gone out to protest and march, the overall bargaining power would have been insufficient. But the people of Xiamen did get out and protest and march, and it was reasonable and orderly, something it's quite worth for people from all across China to learn from. At the same time, the Xiamen officials’ approach is an experience and lesson worth learning from for most local governments, even the central government.

Officially recognized people of the year are of course different from mine. The people I've recognized are recognized for their tireless and rational efforts efforts, recognized for our common call for democracy and freedom. Of the ten people I've chosen, as far as I know, three (Guo Feixiong, Chen Guangcheng and Hu Jia) are now in prison, and as it is the coming of the a new year, I hope that all the seeds of civil rights and resistance that they have scattered take root and blossom.

The people I've chosen are listed in no particular order, and even these ten people alone cannot make up for all the Chinese people I want to name, but what can I do, quotas have their limits. My assessment of them is temporary and impromptu at best, so not necessarily sufficient, but at the very least shows my respect. My hope for the Chinese people in 2008: less catastrophe, and more happiness.

In lieu of Ran's brief descriptions of each, links have been provided for background where available, and his choices are: Gao Yaojie, Zhou Yunpeng, Lian Yue, Wang Zhaojun, Gao Zhisheng, Guo Feixiong, Hu Jia, Chen Guangcheng, Pu Zhiqiang and Mao Yushi.

Several of them, not just those in jail, don't often get blogged about, which is not to suggest bloggers don't try. Ran even left a comment on his post showing the automated message his blog host Tianya sent him as he submitted it, warning him that it contained sensitive keywords and an administrator would be inspecting it shortly.

Following Hu's apprehension, a number of people have spoken out. Blogspot blogger Huang Yiyu writes of recent experiences in blogging about Hu in a January 2 post:

说说关于blog的事情。blogspot没人看当然很能理解(被金盾和谐了的网站么),但是新浪的访问量很奇特。

留言当然不指望了,说说阅读量。有段时间,文章的阅读量保持在10,不上不下。似乎在删掉了所有不和谐的东西后就只有1个或者没人了。光是记录我这平淡的生活,人傻丑,钱又少,没什么吸引力的,没人看也很正常。

奇特的事情在于:去年31号的文章却有17个人看过,创历史纪录的数字。这篇文章似乎没有任何实质性内容,既不能达到:很好很强大;也不能达到:很黄很暴力。按说应该没有人看的,却能出现17个阅读的,着实奇特。

由于没有留言的,当然也就无法知道是谁来看的,只好掐指算来:个人估计这17个人应该是网警之类的,由于写到了胡佳、被捕、中国,这类的关键词,故而被盯上了。我发表了帖子,几分钟之后,就像辛普森家庭一样,金盾“乌拉乌拉”地开始报警,都开始兴奋了,紧急出动啊。来了17个人之后,实在觉得既不好不强大,也不黄不暴力,就把警报给关了。所以呢,就有了这创纪录的阅读量。

I just want to say a bit about blogging. That no-one reads blogspot, I can of course understand (it having been harmonized by the Golden Shield), but it's new waves of visits that strike me as very strange.

Of course I have no hopes of getting comments, so I'll just mention readership rates. There was a while during which the number of views on each post was consistently 10, never more, never less. Then after I deleted all the un-harmonious posts, it seemed like there was only one, or sometimes none. When I only just made notes about my ordinary life, about how stupid or ugly I am, or how little money I have, it didn't have much appeal, and that nobody read those posts was quite common.

The strange thing is this: 17 people read my post on Dec. 31, a historically high number. There wasn't anything substantial in this post at all, so you can't say it was either well-written, nor pornographic and violent. Normally, nobody would have read it, yet it got seventeen views, very strange indeed.

As there are no comments, I of course have no idea who it was that came and read it, all I have to go by are the numbers. Personally, I think these 17 people were most likely internet police of some sort, and because I put keywords like ‘Hu Jia', ‘arrested', ‘China', together, and because of that was being watched. Several minutes after I submitted the post, it must have been like being at home with the Simpsons: the Golden Shield alarm starts wailing, alerting the police, and everyone gets excited and rushes to the scene. Then the 17 people showed up, only to see it wasn't anything important, not pornographic or violent, and so the alarm got turned off. Anyway, I have a record high readership on that post.

Is a post of three lines something worth being so paranoid about? Maybe if you're blogger Guo Weidong, who in large font on his personal blog WRITES:

呼吁北京政府!
立即释放胡佳!
中国公民,扣著脚铐,迎奥运!

Call on the Beijing government!
Immediately release Hu Jia!
The Chinese people, shackled in chains, welcome the Olympics!

And on his blogspot blog:

胡佳是谁?他都做了些什么?
他是如何“煽动颠覆国家政权”的?
北京政府害怕什么?

Who is Hu Jia? What did he do?
How did he “incite to subvert state power”?
What is the Beijing government scared of?

Well-known sports journalist and Bullog International blogger Wang Xiaoshan has merely posted a picture of Hu in an post in his name, with a link to neighbor blogger and Beijing publisher Mo Zhixu‘s post, “An open China needs him”:

和胡佳没见过几面,印象较深的是,前年年他刚结束几十天的拘禁之后。当时的他,虽然历经数十天艰难的生活,却依旧显得镇定从容,神态也很健康。因为我一直在为维权绝食的朋友们的安全担忧,见到他终于放了出来,而没有受到进一步的追究,心里颇为高兴,为此还专门写过文章,认为这不能不说是一个进步。

此后就主要是电话和MSN上的联系交谈了,因为在此之后,他断断续续总是被软禁在家。即便这样,在山东临沂,或是在高律师的门口,当我和一些朋友想传达什么消息,或是打听什么信息的时候,总是第一个想起他。我的朋友彭定鼎曾去他家探望,却不得其门而入,久而久之,北京通州自由城中胡佳的家在很大程度上成为了一个新闻发布中心,我们这些自由的人,却要通过一个被软禁的人了解信息,听来匪夷所思,但也正是胡佳的价值。

I haven't met Hu Jia but for a few times, and how deep an impression was left; it was two years ago, just after he'd come out from over a month of imprisonment. Hu Jia, at the the time, despite the hardship he'd just been through, was as of old looking calm and collected, and very healthy. Because I'd always been worried about the safety of friends involved in the rights struggle and hunger strikes. Seeing that he'd finally been let out, and was being left alone, I was so happy that I sat down and wrote something about it, thinking that this could only be seen as a step forward.

From then on we mostly kept in touch over the phone or on MSN Messenger, the reason being that he was always on and off under house arrest. Even so, whether it was in Linyi in Shandong or at the door to lawyer Gao‘s home, whenever friends and I heard any news or wanted to get some out, the first person we'd think of was Hu. My friend Peng Dingding once went to his house to visit, but he couldn't even get to the door, and so it went on, with Hu's home in BoBo Freedom City in Beijing's Tongzhou district to a very large degree becoming a news distribution center. We're the free ones, and yet we have to get our information from someone under house arrest. It sounds twisted, but that's just how valuable Hu Jia is.

[...]

在一个威权社会里而有政治异议,本来就是有风险的,而执政者可以做他想做的任何事情,这也是明摆着的事情。因此,对于一般的异议人士来说,总是试图克制自己的言行,而做有坚持的持续突破——哪怕是一点点微小的突破,在我看来,胡佳的所做所为,其实并没有超越这一范围,那些经他转托而发出的讯息,不经过他,也一样封锁不住,别忘了,这是一个手机和网络的时代;而他对国保的斥骂,也不过是被非法软禁下的激愤,与非法软禁相比,究竟哪一个更恶劣呢?胡佳这一年来的所作所有,在我看来毫无任何的颠覆性可言,而只是对一些他所认为的价值的坚守。

正因如此,胡佳的行为得到了相当的好评,就在被抓前不久,他还刚获得了由记者无国界组织颁发的国际人权奖“中国奖”。普遍的推测是,胡佳的被抓是为了在奥运前消除一些不和谐的杂音,可我就不理解,一个和平和开放的盛会举行所能传达给世界的讯息,将是何等的强烈,岂是一个小小的胡佳所等抹杀和掩盖的?中国既然选择了开放,也就势必会拥抱自由,在开放与自由中就总是会出现不同的声音,别说这种声音其实是会促进一个更加开放自由的社会的发育的,就算这种声音毫无价值乃至刺耳,但它的存在本身,不就是对开放和自由最有效的辩护吗?它的存在本身,不就是“开放的中国迎奥运”的最好宣传吗?

It's risky when there's political dissent in an authoritarian society, when the rulers can do whatever they choose, this is quite plain. But this is the reason why most dissenters always try to keep a check on what they say and do, and work persistently towards lasting breakthroughs—even if they are just tiny, small breakthroughs. As I see it, the things that Hu Jia does haven't gone beyond this limit. The information he sends out, even if not sent out by him, could still not be locked away. Don't forget, this is the the cellphone and internet age. As for the verbal lashing he gives the secret police, it's nothing more than anger at being kept under illegal house arrest, and compared to illegal house arrest, which after all is the more despicable? Of all the things Hu Jia has done this year, as I see it, there hasn't been a shred of anything which could be said to be subversive. It's just been him upholding certain values of his.

And it's just for that reason that Hu Jia's actions are fairly well-received. Not long before he was arrested, he even received the “China prize” human rights award from Reporters Without Borders. The common speculation now is that Hu Jia was arrested in order to take out some non-harmonious noise prior to the Olympics. This, though, I don't get, how a celebration held to send a message to the world—and it stands to be a very intense message—has anything to do with tiny, little Hua Jia being locked away and covered up. Seeing as how China has opted to open up, coming to embrace freedom is inevitable, and within openness and freedom there will always be different voices. Never mind that these kinds of voices will give birth to an even more open and free society, but just say that these voices were void of value and even annoying; isn't their existence alone simply the most effective defense of openness and freedom? Isn't their existence alone simply the best propaganda for “an open China welcomes the Olympics”?

New media activist Ai Xiaoming, who runs her own gender education BBS, has written an letter of her thoughts for the new year which has been reposted by MSN Live Spaces blogger Claire YW and is entitled, “public enemy of the state, or friend of the people?”:

2008 年新年,由于胡佳被捕而蒙上阴影。朋友之间,新年快乐这个普通的问候语难以说出口。快乐什么呢?金燕和她刚满一月的小婴儿,一点消息也没有;失去了胡佳,她们怎么过?而胡佳被带走时,是否又蒙上了逮捕毒贩子的那种黑头罩,是否又给塞在车座之下呕吐几近窒息?他有没有带上治疗肝硬化的药物?更让人担心的是,他会不会遭受酷刑毒打?会不会遭遇彻夜车轮审讯,会不会带上几个月的铐子以至于在腿上留下淤青?更有甚者,会不会被电棍攻击身体,像郭飞雄君那样痛不欲生?

而所有这一切,我能想象的,金燕又怎么想?她还那么年轻,比我的孩子还小一岁。我甚至在梦中欲望着接近她的家,我看见了嗷嗷待哺的小女婴和阴森黯淡的楼梯。

幸而今天看到李劲松律师明天将去会见胡佳的消息,让我的忧虑略有缓解。比起持久见不到律师的嫌疑犯来说,胡佳的命运要算好的。

2008, a new year, marked by the shadow of Hu Jia's arrest. With friends, ‘happy new year’ this common greeting seems hard to say out loud. Happy for what? Jinyan and her month-old daughter, without any information at all, have lost Hu Jia. How are they supposed to get by? And when Hu Jia was being taken away, was he arrested like a drug dealer again, with a black sack thrown over his head? Was he stuffed under a car seat again, let to vomit until he nearly suffocated? Was he allowed to bring his liver cirrhosis medication? What's most worrying, is he going to be tortured and beaten up? Is he going to get the round-the-clock rotated interrogations? Is he going be cuffed for months on end until marks are left on his ankles? What's more, is he going to be beaten with electric batons like Guo Feixiong, until he has no more desire to live?

I can imagine all of these happening, but what could Jinyan be thinking? She's still so young, a year younger than my own child. Even in my dreams I see myself approaching her home, and I see her starving little daughter and the dim, eerie stairwell leading up.

Thankfully, today I saw news that the lawyer Li Jinsong will go meet with Hu Jia tomorrow, some relief for my anxiety. Compared to suspects who've long waited in vain to see a lawyer, Hu Jia's fate will be much better.

Writing of the one time Ai met Hu, at dinner following an AIDS seminar:

在那次会后,很多朋友一起吃饭,我坐在胡佳旁边。得知他也爱好摄影,我们还讨论了那种用哪种软件剪辑的问题。很久之后,我知道胡佳和金燕拍摄了一部纪录片:《自由城的囚徒》,可惜我只在别人电脑上看过一部分,没有看完。作为一个纪录片工作者,尽管只看了一部分,依然可以得出基本的判断,这是一个伟大的纪录,它纪录的是个人生活,但呈现了时代的转折。这个转折是:个人挑战国家权力。

这部影片中基本上只有两个人,是胡佳和他的妻子;其他的人,只是一些身影,我还没有看到他们的面容;估计他们也不会接受胡佳的采访。不过,胡佳和金燕的行动被他们限制。他们跟踪、监视,执行着国家机器的使命。而影片表达着,在这样的限制下,两个年轻人有时很泰然,有时也很烦。还有的时候,金燕举起标语牌表达抗议。

After that session, a bunch friends had dinner together. I sat just next to Hu Jia, and learned of his love for film. We even talked about the problems various film editing software have. A long while after that, I heard that Hu Jia and Jinyan had filmed their own documentary, “Prisoners in Freedom City”, which unfortunately I was only able to see a part of on someone else's computer. As a documentary maker myself, even though I only saw a part, I can still say with basic assurance, that this is an outstanding documentary. It documents personal lives, but it embodies the turning point of this era: individuals challenging the authority of the state.

[...]

我现在回到文章标题上,胡佳和监控他的警察冲突持续了一年多,警察代表国家监控他,他就是不服从。胡佳就这样成了国家公敌,确切地说,是这个权力机器的公敌。在过去一年多时间,”胡佳人民广播电台”每天深更半夜在网上发些消息;这些消息,加上他直言不讳的评论意见,我相信是这些构成了他的”颠覆国家政权” 罪。

可是,如果容我说句实话,我愿意说,由于胡佳的存在,这个国家,恰恰就颠覆不了了!胡佳的努力,开启了公民新闻的积极实践,给世界一个希望的窗口:有胡佳存在,谁能说中国是一个专制国家 ,没有言论自由?宪法尊重和保障人权的承诺,从胡佳的存在就得到了突破性的体现。我不知道对胡佳来说,他是否还有言论禁忌这个概念;不管怎么说,中国媒体、网络、学界的言论自由,因为有了胡佳这样敢往火坑里跳的人,已经大大地拓展了。有了胡佳这样每天摸老虎屁股的人,学院里的自由知识分子梦里都要笑醒,还有什么话算得上更敏感的呢?

一句话,胡佳批评的现象都能改进,这个国家不仅不会被推翻,反而更要繁荣昌盛,蒸蒸日上了。

Back to the topic of this post, Hu Jia and police keeping him under surveillance have been clashing for over a year now; the police keep him under surveillance on behalf of the state, but he just won't obey. It's in this way that Hu Jia became a public enemy of the state, or to put it more accurately, a public enemy of this authority mechanism. In the year just past, the “Hu Jia People's Broadcasting Channel” sent its news out over the internet quite late at night; I believe it was this information, in addition to his comments and views calling things for what they are, that compromised his crime of “subverting state power.”

Yet, if you'll allow me to add a few words, I'm willing to say that Hu Jia's existence alone is the precise reason why this country cannot be subverted! Hu Jia's efforts have opened the door to positive and practical citizen journalism, as well as having given the world a window of hope: as long as Hu Jia exists, who is able to say that China is an authoritarian state? The constitution's promise to respect and uphold human rights had made a breakthrough, starting with Hu Jia's existence. I don't know, in Hu Jia's eyes, if such things as taboos even exist for him. Regardless, however, freedoms of speech for Chinese media, the internet and academia, because of the existence of Hu Jia, the kind of person who dared jump into the pit of fire, have already been greatly expanded. With people like Hu Jia, poking the butt of the tiger on a daily basis, the liberal intellectuals in their academies have woken up laughing from their dreams, and is there anything to be said more sensitive than that?

One line: the things which Hu Jia criticizes could all be improved. This country won't be overthrown, it just needs to thrive, keep on the up-and-up.

[...]

现在胡佳进去了,还有谁会给冻落街头的人送寒衣呢?那些哀哭无告的被冤屈者、受害者、遭受暴力袭击的人、那些常人不敢接触的政治犯、信仰犯的家人,还有谁,他们可以直接打电话倾诉哀恸?暗夜里本来有几颗蜡烛,如今,敢于闪亮的蜡烛就要给掐灭了。

从拘留、律师介入到判决,还有一段程序要走。诸位律师代理人,发不出高律师的消息、拦不住郭飞雄受酷刑、捞不出陈光诚,在胡佳颠覆国家案上,他们的作为能有多少?我本人不报乐观态度,但我知道有几个事实无法改变:

无论胡佳被判多少年,他的信念不会改变。而且,由于他卓越的、受过良好人权教育的妻子,他们所经历的一切,依然会传遍全世界。

无论辩护是否会减轻施加于胡佳的刑罚,律师努力的价值不会改变,他们的作为,将为公民的人权保护,积累重要文本和经验。

无论还将有多少人权工作者被消除声音,苦难和危机不会因此消失,却反而会更其加剧。

对于监控胡佳的专班警察来说,他们艰巨的执勤终于结束,可以换班了。然而,一年、两年、三年,或者十年、二十年,面对历史的大趋势,还会有多少公民会起而维护自己的权利,并锻炼成为人权工作者?君不见,”维权”这个词,刚开始是被权威部门作为负面词语使用的,不到两年期间,维权已经堂而皇之成为许多媒体采用的关键词,堂堂正正进入公民话语领域。人民可以改变词语,人民也在创造历史。

还有,中国政府既然在国际社会签署了联合国人权体系中最重要的公约之一:《公民权利和政治权利公约》,它有责任、有义务创造条件,在国内批准执行这一公约,它还要接受比胡佳的约束力更大的国际社会的监督。

Now that Hu Jia is on the inside, so else is going to give warm clothing to the people freezing down on the streets? The miserable and vulnerable victims of injustice, victims of violent attacks, the political criminals that ordinary people don't dare get too near to, the family members of ‘faith criminals'. Who else can they phone straight up that will listen, that they can confide in with their sorrows? There were once several candles in the dark, but now, those who dare light one stands only to have it be snuffed out.

From an arrest, to a lawyer's involvement, to a sentencing, there's still a short procedure to be followed. Legal representatives haven't been able to get out news on lawyer Gao [Zhisheng], they haven't been able keep Guo Feixiong from being tortured, or Chen Guangcheng from being sent off to labor camp, so in Hu Jia's state subversion case, how much will they be able to do? I personally am not staying optimistic, though I do know that there are a few facts that cannot change:

Regardless of how many years Hu Jia gets sentenced, his convictions will never change. Further, with his excellent wife, educated in human rights as she is, everything they go through will make its way known around the world.

Regardless of whether his defence will be able to reduce the punishment handed down to Hu Jia, the value in lawyers’ efforts will not change. Their role, defending citizens’ human rights, will gain precedent and experience.

Regardless of how many human rights workers still stand to have their voices silenced, it won't make suffering and crises disappear, instead only intensifying them.

As for the stakeout police keeping Hu Jia under surveillance, their tough duty has finally come to an end, and they can swap shifts. However, a year, two years, three or maybe ten or twenty years from now, after the tides of history have receded, how many citizens will stand up to defend their rights, and exercise those to the point where they become human rights workers? You may not have noticed at the time, but when the saying “rights defender” first came out, it was used by authorities in a negative sense; less than two years later, and rights defenders is a keyword used openly by media everywhere and has respectfully entered the realm of everyday language. People can transform words, just as much as they can create history.

Also, as the Chinese government, among international society, has signed one of the most important covenants from a United Nations human rights body, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, it has the responsibility and obligation to create those conditions, and to to allow for this covenant to be carried out here in China, or else deal with international observers far more restricting than what was placed on Hu Jia.

FreeMoreNews, which provides original blogging on sensitive domestic stories, has a post today that puts the number of police stationed outside Hu and Zeng's home as of January 2 at twenty to thirty, and mentions a visit from Hu's mother the same day. She was searched and had belongings confiscated upon going it, FMN writes, saw six police officers posted inside the home, and was herself visited later that evening and told not to accept any interviews or otherwise leak any information. Little else is known at this point. Rights lawyers Li Jinsong and Li Fangping had applied to see Hu, and were denied [zh]. The post does, however, list Hu Jia and Zeng Jinyan's home address:

北京通州区东果园BOBO自由城76号楼5单元542号

#542, Unit 5, Building #76, BOBO Freedom City, Dongguoyuan, Tongzhou district, Beijing

World regions

Countries

Languages