Human Rights in China is issuing a statement made by Zhang Qing, wife of human rights defender and legal advisor Guo Feixiong (also known as Yang Maodong), at her request. The statement discusses Guo’s reaction to his conviction and sentence and his subsequent decision not to appeal. It describes the deplorable conditions to which Guo has been subjected during detention. It also details his lack of hope for a fair appeal, particularly in light of the extortion of his confession via torture and threats made to his family. Finally, the statement publicizes Guo’s appeals to the Chinese government to enact political reforms and release political prisoners. A translation of this statement is appended to this press advisory.
Guo, who provided legal advice to rights defenders in a number of controversial cases, was detained on September 14, 2006. His case was delayed due to several transfers and rounds of supplemental investigation, and finally went to trial on July 9, 2007. Guo was convicted and sentenced on November 14 on charges of "illegal business activity" in connection with the publication of Shenyang Political Earthquake《沈阳政坛地震》, a book concerning a political scandal in Shenyang City, Liaoning Province.
“Guo Feixiong’s Decision Not to Appeal & His Demands in Prison”
by Zhang Qing
On November 14, 2007, my husband Guo Feixiong was sentenced to five years’ imprisonment and fined 40,000 yuan by the Guangzhou Tianhe District Court. After reading out the verdict, Judge Liang Hao asked him, “Do you have anything to say about the verdict?” Guo calmly replied, “The only thing I can say is that by doing this you have broadcast the cause that China’s independent democracy movement is promoting, and through this, you and I have played our historical roles in that cause. For this, I feel truly honored.” The judge asked him again: “Don’t you want to appeal?” Guo replied, “My decision on whether or not I appeal has to be made after I consult my lawyers.”
In the evening of November 22, 2007, Mo Shaoping and Hu Xiao, Guo’s defense lawyers, arrived in Guangzhou from Beijing. The next morning, they went to Guangzhou Number 3 Detention Center, together with me and our six-year-old son. When the lawyers tried to register at the detention center’s front desk for the meeting with Guo, the female police officer there said she needed to call for permission before they could register. After about half an hour, she made the phone call, and the lawyers were given permission to meet with Guo. While the lawyers entered the detention center, our son and I waited outside.
The meeting lasted around one and a half hours. After they came out, I asked and was told that Guo had decided not to appeal. He said he had made the decision after serious consideration. His decision does not mean that he agrees with the court’s verdict. He said that in his final statement in open court on July 9, he had made very clear that he was not guilty of the charges against him.
Here, I would like to repeat that last paragraph of his self-defense: “I am innocent! Whether I am to face everlasting history or existing law, there is no sufficient evidence, nor fitting law that can convict me.”
He said that he was tried and heavily sentenced because the government replaced law with power, and because the police extorting his confession by torture; even by using high-voltage electric shocks. This is not honorable behavior that respects the rule of law.
Why is Guo not appealing?
First, during the time he has been in the detention center over the past one year and two months, he has been held in a dark room without any sunlight. His lawyers asked him if he could see the sun when he was exercising, and Guo replied that even during exercise time there was no sunlight available. He said that his health has deteriorated seriously, his vision is increasingly blurred, and his skin has developed white spots due to lack of sunlight. Guo said the detention center is a temporary holding place, and he thought that being detained in a prison will be relatively more stable and regular, and at least he would be able to see the sun.
He also said that in detention he is not able to watch television or read newspapers, even the news about the Communist Party of China’s 17th Congress opening. He did not know about any of this, and only learned of it from his lawyers. He believes, however, that other prisoners in the detention center were able to watch TV and read newspapers, and it seemed his unique situation was designed specifically by the police. He said further that he had not received letters from family since September, and I knew I had not received his letter sent in October. The police therefore violated his rights of communication.
As his wife, I worry a lot about his future. At the same time, I thought it was wise not to appeal so he could leave the detention center as soon as possible. I hope the international community will continue to pay attention to Guo Feixiong’s situation in prison.
Second, Guo believes there is no hope of a change in verdict by appealing a political prosecution. He said that there were other ways for him to seek redress as he faces history, the Chinese people, the truth, and an independent judiciary in the future. He suggested that friends and lawyers draw up a joint complaint as a remaining witness for the future. He has decided not to appeal and hopes the case will be ended quickly and he can move into a more stable situation.
He said he hopes that his family, friends and lawyers will help him prepare a joint complaint: He stated that the people who interrogated him on February 12 are not the same as those who appear on the interrogation records which were provided by the prosecutors during the hearing, and he thus believes those records are perjurous. The video recording of that same interrogation will prove that his confession was extorted by torture. He also said that his attempted suicide on February 13, following the confession extorted through the use of electric shocks on his genitals the day before, had also been recorded by video as evidence. He believed that conscientious police in the detention center should have retained the video tape which could have proved that the prosecution committed perjury in court.
He further told me that police threatened him in 5 or 6 different ways including by threatening that our son would not be allowed to attend school and that our daughter would not be allowed to attend junior high school. Their threats also included that Guo would be transferred to Shenyang where torture would be applied. Now, our son is unable to go to school. The police also threatened that even in reform-through-labor, they would find people to beat and harass him, and to steal his books.
He thinks that his situation will be difficult when he is sent to prison. He said in advance that he is prepared for a long-term protest by hunger strike if the police continue to persecute him. For example, he said that if the police take and keep his 50 or 60 diaries, he will begin a hunger strike. The strike will be divided into two parts, the first one for 100 days and the second for 150 days until the end of the Olympics. He said that if they seize his diaries, or persecute him, he would go on hunger strike. If he is not allowed to see his family or to receive family letters, then he might also have to start a hunger strike.
Guo Feixiong’s Demands in Prison:
He called on the Chinese government to undertake the above measures as a means of beginning to realize rights and dignity for Chinese people, and of presenting a civilized and harmonious outlook for the Olympics — an historic moment of celebration for Chinese people and people throughout the world.