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Bao Tong files complaint with top public security officials

June 1, 2000

Former Chinese official Bao Tong, issued a letter of complaint to China’s Ministry of Public Security yesterday, denouncing the escalated harassment that he and his wife have suffered at the hands of a group that shadows them 24 hours a day. The letter, made public today, was also sent to China’s President Jiang Zemin and Premier Zhu Rongji.

The letter, which is translated in full below, describes a May 6 incident in which Bao Tong, 68, and his wife were surrounded by ten men when they exited a taxi in downtown Beijing. Ordered to return home, Bao Tong was forced into a car and his wife Jiang Zongcao, nearly 70-years-old, was knocked to the ground.

Bao Tong, the most senior government leader to be imprisoned for opposing the government's use of force to suppress the 1989 demonstrations, reports that he is currently being monitored by a group of at least 20 people, including both uniformed and plainclothes police. In his letter, Bao Tong seeks the investigation and abolition of the group, which he calls an "illegal organization" that "aims to trample on the Constitution and human rights…[and] pretend[s] to act in the name of…the government and…Party." Bao Tong writes, "I issue this formal complaint on behalf of the Constitution and on behalf of the individual rights of Chinese citizens."

"On the eve of the eleventh anniversary of the June Fourth Massacre, Bao Tong’s case demonstrates how political persecution continues," said Xiao Qiang executive director of Human Rights in China. "In addition to imprisonment, the Chinese government silences its critics with the heavy-handed, day-to-day deprivation of basic human rights."

Human Rights in China condemns the intensified harassment of Bao Tong and his family. Human Rights in China calls on the Chinese government to immediately end its tactics of intimidation, and to guarantee to all citizens the rights and freedoms guaranteed under Chinese law.

Bao Tong, the former adviser to ousted Chinese Communist Party leader Zhao Ziyang, was director of a political reform institute under the Communist Party Central Committee when he was arrested in May 1989 for opposing the violent government crackdown on peaceful protesters. From 1989 to 1997, he spent seven years in prison and one subsequent year under house arrest. Since the restoration of his political rights in 1998, Bao Tong has been a vocal critic of Chinese government policies.


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Letter of complaint filed by Bao Tong

To: The Ministry of Public Security
Cc: Premier of the State Council; President of the People’s Republic of China

I am Bao Tong. I am writing to file a complaint.

At 3:00 in the afternoon on May 6, my family and I went to the east side of Beijing by taxi. As we were getting out of the cab in the downtown area, a group of about ten men from two cars and one motorbike rushed at us from behind, surrounded us and forcefully pushed me into one of their cars. At the same time, they pushed my nearly 70-year-old wife Jiang Zongcao to the ground. Their action constitutes a violation of the individual rights of two Chinese citizens, and is a violation of Article 37 of the Chinese Constitution and Article 131 of the Criminal Law of the People’s Republic of China. This is the third report that I have filed [regarding this matter].

If you need to understand more about my general situation, I willingly provide the following details:

  • The people watching me are an organized group. There are at least twenty people carrying out the task of "shadowing Bao Tong." Some of them wear police uniforms, but most of them are in plainclothes. A few are women, but most are strong, young men. Since this January, they have been following me everywhere as soon as I leave my home, twenty-four hours a day. They work in three shifts, with six to a shift.
  • This group has a considerable amount of resources. They have at least six cars that have been used in this "shadowing," including a minimum of four BMWs and Mercedes. They are also equipped with motorbikes and walkie-talkies.
  • The group has a superior, and perhaps their superior also has superiors. On May 6, just as we got out of the taxi, they surrounded me and said, "According to orders from our superior, you are not allowed to get out of the car." They also said, "According to orders from our superior, you must go home." I asked them who their superior is, and they answered, "a branch of the government." Then they corrected themselves and said, "a branch of the Party." During the entire incident, they continually spoke into their walkie-talkies, asking, "Should we take action? Should we take action?…. Okay, let’s do it."
  • Their superior is above the law. The command to "take action" proves this, as do the orders for me not to get out of the car and to return home. Those executing these orders also believe that their superior is above the law. Therefore, they dare to claim they are performing official duties when they are executing such unlawful orders. When we demanded that they show us appropriate legal documents, they dismissed our request and smugly said, "Don’t bring up the subject of law with us!"
  • Therefore, as I see it, the group seems to be an illegal organization with a leader who is above the law. It appears to be an evil organization that aims to trample on the Constitution and human rights. They are different from our government, which is "ruled by law," and they are different from the Communist Party, which must "behave within the limits of the Constitution and the law." They seem to be a group of degenerates pretending to act in the name of "a branch of the government" and "a branch of the Party."
  • I don’t know the name of this group, nor do I know its base of activity. But I am certain that the entrance diagonally across from my house (the westernmost entrance of Building 72) is a place where they often gather. Every time I leave my house, a cluster of people from that entrance immediately run out and follow me at close range, or stop my taxi from leaving. You can definitely find a number of these people at this entrance.
  • According to my observations, this group of people is familiar with my building’s security guards, who sit in the two police posts outside my entrance, beside the iron fence. In addition, they are also familiar with the people who guard the apartments downstairs from me, in Units 102 and 104, as well as other, newly-constructed buildings surrounding my house. If you want to find out more about the group and its superiors, you could also ask these guards.

The incident that I described above occurred on May 6 at around 3:00 in the afternoon. An hour later, I filed a complaint by personally going to the Babaoshan local police station. On May 8, I telephoned the Public Security Bureau of Beijing to report the same incident. It is now May 31, and I have not heard any reply. It seems that the Beijing public security organs have encountered some insurmountable difficulties in handling this matter. Therefore, I am left with no choice but to file a direct complaint to the country’s top public security office, the highest executive office and the leading officials of the government.

I believe that there is a practical, political significance in investigating this illegal group. According to this year’s human rights White Paper, published by the Chinese government, and in light of the governing principle of rule by law, the Chinese people now enjoy unprecedented freedoms and rights. However, this group I have described is a bad apple and has the effect of damaging the good name of the state. As long as these bad apples continue to exist, there will be no way to guarantee Article 37 of the Chinese Constitution (which states that "the individual freedoms of citizens of the People’s Republic of China should not be violated"). In addition, according to Article 33 of the Constitution (which states that ‘all citizens have equal rights under the law"), these rights should not differ for ordinary people and for the leaders of the country. If the unlawful violation of individual rights that my wife and I encountered is allowed unchecked, simply because we are just two ordinary citizens, then in the future, it could very well be an important leader who is forced into a car or pushed to the ground as we were. What a shocking sight that would be! [No citizens would be safe from such unlawful violation of rights.] Thus I believe that groups of this kind, which violate the Constitution and trample human rights, should be abolished, regardless of how many exist in the capital and throughout the country, and regardless of how powerful they are or how strong their superiors are. To do so would uphold the law and safeguard citizens’ rights.

From this perspective, I issue this formal complaint on behalf of the Constitution and on behalf of the individual rights of Chinese citizens. It is very possible that by filing of this complaint, I will again provoke this illegal group. I may get into further trouble, such as having my telephone line cut, being accused of counter-revolution, or even encountering some kind of accident or misfortune within my family. If such things happen to me, it will only prove my judgment correct. This group is indeed a powerful one, and must be dealt with seriously. Otherwise, sooner or later, the ordinary citizens of China could be harmed.

I trust this letter of complaint will not go unanswered. I am waiting for your reply. Thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to attend to this matter.

Bao Tong

May 31, 2000

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