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13 Family members of forced disappeared persons’ Open Letter to the People’s Republic of China Minister of Public Security Guo Shengkun


【13 Family members of forced disappeared persons’ Open Letter to the People’s Republic of China Minister of Public Security Guo Shengkun】

- on the eve of the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearance.


Dear Mr. Guo Shengkun,


We wonder if this letter will ever be read by you. Probably not! But why do we still wish to write it and send it to you? It is because no matter how glimmer the hope is, we still would like to grasp it. 


Since 9 July this year, our family members have been forced disappeared, one by one. They are 17 lawyers, their assistants, law firm staff and 6 activists. Their plights have been  similar: They were taken away from Beijing or Tianjin by people who claimed to be “Tianjin Police”, for suspicion of always the same crimes, “picking quarrels and provoking troubles” or simply “suspected of committed criminal offenses” without even a proper charge. Moreover, it has been extremely difficult for any one of them to engage a legal representative.  As soon as  lawyers expressed willingness to take up their cases, the public security officials would stop them from doing so.


We noticed, only after we finally managed to hire someone and wished to embark on the legal process of meeting our family members being taken away, that the Tianjin police actually denied having anything to do with it.


In the case of a terrorist attack, there would at least be groups to come forward and claim responsibility. So shouldn’t the public security system of the People’s Republic of China come about to clarify its position for the citizens it has taken away?


Then not quite surprisingly,  CCTV “Morning News” broadcasted on 18 July a programme about our beloved ones. What did shock us however was that even up to that moment, we still had not received any  formal notification from the police regarding the status of our family members. Is “judging without trial” just another annotation to the “rule according to law” that General Secretary Xi Jinping has so often underlined?“-?


During the countless trips in search of our beloved ones, news finally came through, stating that the cases of our family members were handed by a task force. The police Tianjin did not know any detail. We were finally informed of some kind of allegations and that    formal notification would come our waysoon.


50 days have passed since the disappearance of some of our family members. Most of us still have not received any notification. Where have the notifications that they have promised gone? With all these days gone, it should have been enough time for them to even crawl all the way through to the hometown address indicated on the identity cards. And yet,   only 7 families, that of 5 lawyers and assistants as well as 2 activists, have by far received the police’s notification. But their locations of detention are still unknown though and the chance for meeting them has remained grim. While one of them was allowed to meet with his lawyer for one time, request for meeting a second time was rejected. For the rest of the 16 others, it has been complete silence.


Therefore, the indisputable fact is: these 23 citizens of the People’s Republic of China have been “forced disappeared” and some have been so for already  50 days! And in addition to this, the public security organ which is under your direction has no intention to render us, family members  of these people, our legal right  to information.


We do not understand why things have ended up this way. Is the “law” practised by the officials the same “law” promulgated by the State in this nationwide fervour of “rule according to law”?  How can we express the frustration and torments we are having e?


We were also thinking: from the senior public security officials, down to the ordinary police handling the cases, they too must also have family, parents, wives and husbands. What if these unfortunate episodes happen to their family members? Will they then be able to understand our feelings? (Please forgive us for painting the hypothetical situation; in fact it has happened before.)


Our family friends have been asking whether there is news about our beloved ones, and our answer is always the same, “by far, the public security departments have not proceed with any formality with us”.


At the doorstep of the investigation team of the Tianjian He Xi Detention Centre, the 2-year-old son of lawyer Wang Quanzhang asked his mother, “where is papa?” Lawyer Wang Yu’s son Bao Mengmeng sent a text message to lawyers who have not been forced disappeared, “When can I meet my parents?” The 5-year-old daughter of Li Heping asked innocently, “Why hasn’t papa come home yet?”


With regard to the children’s question of “When will papa come home”, we hope that one day, you too would be able to comprehend the dismay. “We don’t even know where they have gone, how would we know when they will come back?”


Moreover, the public security system which is now under your directorship has for many years been notoriously known for its use of torture for confession during investigation.  Although China has  ratified the International Convention against Torture, we feel gloomy that the personal safety of our beloved ones will be protected “according to the law”, if we are not even informed of their whereabouts.


We grew up watching movies and TV programmes that followed the national theme of new China. But when we think about these works now, we are puzzled. It is hard to  understand what the reality is. In fact, whenever we hear a knock on the door, we are afraid. The person at the door might be the someone coming to take the water meter, or he could be the delivery man, the pipe repairman, or even the very slim chance of being a burglar (if so, we can still call the emergency hotline 110). Yet the most likely person to appear at the door now is the public security staff working for the People’s Republic of China, someone even the emergency hotline would have to cooperate with.


The fear we feel is not limited to lawyers and their family members. It is for the whole society.


We hope to see that your ministry will abide by law in your work and in handling the cases!!


Family Members:


1. Li Heping’s wife Wang Qiaoling

2. Bao Longjun’s mother Zhao Fengxia

3. Wang Quanzhang’s sister Wang Quanxiu

4. Wang Quanzhang’s wife Li Wenzu

5. Liu Sixin’s father Liu Shengxian

6. Li Chunfu’s wife Bi Liping

7. Xie Yuandong’s sister Xie Yuanfeng

8. Zhao Wei’s husband You Minglei

9. Gao Yue’s brother Gao Liang

10. Ge Ping’s wife Fan Lili

11. Wang Fang’s mother (Hubei)

12. Lin Bin's mother Liu Yinchai

13. Wang Yu's mother Tong Yanchun

29 August 2015

Written on the eve of the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearance.