Honorable Mr. Xi Jinping, General Secretary of the CPC Central Committee and Chairperson of the National Security Council,
As the sixth plenary session of the 18th Communist Party of China opens, we solemnly write this letter to share with you our experiences.
In the words of the police, we are the families of the individuals arrested in the 709 Crackdown, a case which has by now become internationally known. We have taken on the tough journey since 10 July 2015, “looking for” our family members who could not be traced after they were taken away by the police. It was not until 8 January this year that we received the formal notice of arrest, with which they were accused either of “subverting state power” or “inciting subversion of state power”. Over the past 16 months, their rights as a human as stipulated in the Chinese Constitution and the Criminal Procedure Law have been entirely trespassed by the police. As time passes, and with information coming from the various organs of the police, the Procuratorate and the court, we have come to learn that this case of prominence has been operated by an substantial task force led by the National Security Council, the director of which is you, Chairperson Xi.
We would believe it, if someone say in July or August last year, you were not aware of the Crackdown which had so blatantly trampled the “rule according to the law” that you have been advocating all along. But after a full year of smear reporting of the CCTV and the Global Times, alongside with the extensive coverage by the international media, we trust you must have learnt about it! If not, those who are working under you should review their performance. However, it does not matter now. We are writing this open letter to you, so that even if you knew nothing before, you are now well-informed!
It has come close to 16 months since the 709 Crackdown first took place, we can summarize the situation in a few sentences:
There has been no boundary to the Crackdown, to the media smearing, the use of torture, the implications of the family members, and to the violations of procedure. But when it comes to question of open trial, constraints and barriers were ubiquitous.
There was no restriction to the scale of the Crackdown. The police captured and or interrogated over 300 rights lawyers and citizens. Among them, there were couple (Wang Yu and Bao Longjun), brothers (Li Heping and Li Chunfu), father and son (Wu Gan and his father), and many other citizens who were innocent. The scale has been so large that it could be termed a “movement”.
There was no bottom-line to the media smearing. The mainland media have vilified not only our loved ones but also the families as we look for our loved ones. The videos about us were cropped and dubbed. If not experiencing all these in person, it would be hard to believe that the state media could be that filthy
There was no limit to the use of torture. The cruelty of the torture suffered by our family members was shocking. Information about the abuses of lawyer Xie Yang included the instances to torture him for confessions, to crush his will power and to physically assault him. All these have rendered us many sleepless nights missing our loved ones.
There was no end to the implications of the family members. All the other lawyers in Zhou Shifeng’s law firm were affected. Many other lawyers in other law firms suffered similarly. This happened also to the family members as well as to the lawyers’ lawyers, with their right to practice confined, their right to travel out of the mainland banned, their children’s right to education deprived and that to shelter striped. They have been intimidated with their children and kin taken as hostage, as well as with their career and life threatened…..
There were incessant violations of procedure. Over the past year, the police and the procuratorate have always rejected the defence counsels’ requests to pursue the case with formalities. Apart from fusing to take in the letters submitted by the defence counsels and the families, they also unlawfully deprived the personal freedoms of the defence counsels and the families. Families were ordered not to do 4 things: not to hire a lawyer, not to issue any Wechat or Microblog message, not to contact other 709 families, and not to give interviews to foreign press. We were not able to find the officers in charge of the cases. The police assigned a spoke-person to deal with the 709 families and the defence counsels and we were requested to persuade our loved ones to confess and succumb to the accusations. No one has seen those who were granted bail. In the end, even the defence counsel was seized and forced to self-incriminate. The defence counsels and the families went to the complaints centre to file our concerns and yet our cases were simply ignored by the People’s Supreme Procuratorate.
The open trials were circumscribed in all aspects. The trial in early August turned out to be a farce as it was set to restrain all and everything, the defence counsels, the family members, the media…….On the day the trial opened, we the family members were illegally detained at home by the police, who did not bother to show us any paper or their work pass. Many of these violations, some of which amounting to serious crimes, were beyond our imagination but certainly not out of the hands of the police.
As the old Chinese saying goes, “it’s never too late to mend”. It is still possible to claim “rule according to law” if the trespassing of the law can be corrected immediately. The sixth plenary session of the 18th CPC is about to start, and as the leader of this immense country, we earnestly hope that you could heed to this matter, order for the wrongs to be corrected and all the cases, families and defence counsels implicated in the 709 Crackdown be treated with justice and be freed. We believe you will be acclaimed and admired by all in this country if you could mend the mistakes in 709 Crackdown in accordance with the law.
We look forward to your attention, Chairperson. We hope that all people implicated in the 709 Crackdown will be treated fairly and objectively and all those individuals will regain their freedoms.
The 709 Families:
Wang Qiaoling (wife of lawyer Li Heping)
Li Wenzu (wife of lawyer Wang Quanzhang)
Yuan Shanshan (wife of lawyer Xie Yanyi)
Chen Guiqiu (wife of lawyer Xie Yang)
Xie Huicheng (father of lawyer Xie Yang)
Liang Fengying (mother of lawyer Xie Yang)
Huang Yi (Sister-in-law of lawyer Xie Yang)
Xie Yangjun (older brother of lawyer Xie Yang)
Xie Cuiping (eldest sister of lawyer Xie Yang)
Xiao Song (brother-in-law of lawyer Xie Yang)
Xie Baolian (second older sister of lawyer Xie Yang)
Qin Mingnan (brother-in-law of lawyer Xie Yang)
Xie Chilian (third older sister of lawyer Xie Yang)
Huang Yuanyou (brother-in-law of lawyer Xie Yang)
Xie Wanlian (fourth older sister of lawyer Xie Yang)
Yuan Bangqun (brother-in-law of lawyer Xie Yang)
Xie Juping (younger sister of lawyer Xie Yang)
Lin Youguo (brother-in-law of lawyer Xie Yang)
Xie Xuhua (nephew of lawyer Xie Yang)
Ning Haiyan (nephew’s wife of lawyer Xie Yang)
Chen Jiamu (father-in-law of lawyer Xie Yang)
Wang Quanxiu (elder sister of lawyer Wang Quanzhang)
Li Maodi (father-in-law of lawyer Wang Quanzhang)
Wang Fengen (father of lawyer Wang Quanzhang)
Mo Zhenglan (mother of lawyer Wang Quanzhang)
Li Rongsheng (father of lawyers Li Heping and Li Chunfu)
Wang Youhua (mother of lawyers Li Heping and Li Chunfu)
Li Chunlian (sister of lawyers Li Heping and Li Chunfu)
Yang Bo (nephew of lawyers Li Heping and Li Chunfu)
Wang Changyun (father-in-law of lawyer Li Heping)
Ren Yuqin (mother-in-law of lawyer Li Heping)
Wang Xianfeng (brother-in-law of lawyer Li Heping)
Li Ying (sister-in-law of lawyer Li Heping)
Wang Junyan (sister-in-law of lawyer Li Heping)
Wang Wei (nephew-in-law of lawyer Li Heping)