12/27/2017, 10.38
CHINA

Eight years in prison for Wu Gan: If I do not oppose the dictatorship, am I still a man?

Video of sentencing doctored to make the activist appear "repentant". In a statement given through his lawyers, Wu Gan denounces attempts at plea bargaining and names those who tortured and abused him. "The number of those who are ready to participate in the funeral of the dictatorship is growing ever more and expanding day by day".

Tianjin (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Tianjin Court yesterday sentenced the human rights activist Wu Gan to eight years in prison. He was arrested in 2015 along with hundreds of other lawyers in the campaign dubbed "709", from the date it began (on July 9, 2015). The activist was convicted of "inciting subversion against state power". Wu Gan is famous for defending a woman, raped by a member of the Chinese Communist Party, who killed her assailant, and for having always joked about justice in China, which is subordinate to the Party. He did not deny the accusation, but he is reported to have declared: "If I do not oppose the dictatorship, am I still a man?".

According to the publication "China Change", a few hours after the sentence, the authorities published a doctored video, to show that Wu Gan as "repentant" and that he did not appeal against the sentence. In reality, the video takes pictures of a session last August, in which Wu Gan wears a short-sleeved shirt, while yesterday he wore a shirt with long sleeves. In the editing an important phrase is omitted, in which the activist states: "I admit that I have harbored thoughts of subverting state power but I believe this is a citizen’s right, and my actions do not constitute crimes”.

After the sentence, Wu Gan’s lawyers released the following statement:

For those living under a dictatorship, being given the honorable label of one who “subverts state power” is the highest form of affirmation for a citizen. It’s proof that the citizen wasn’t an accomplice or a slave, and that at the very least he went out and defended, and fought for, human rights. Liang Qichao (梁启超, famous reformist at end of Qing dynasty) said that he and dictatorship were two forces inextricably opposed; I say: If I don’t oppose dictatorship, am I still a man?

They have attempted to have me plead guilt and cooperate with them to produce their propaganda in exchange for a light sentence — they even said that as long as I plead guilty, they’ll give me a three-year sentence suspended for three years. I rejected it all. My eight-year sentence doesn’t make me indignant or hopeless. This was what I chose for myself: when you oppose the dictatorship, it means you are already walking on the path to jail.

I’m optimistic despite the harsh sentence. Because of the internet, more and more people are waking up. The ranks of those ready to stand at the funeral of the dictatorship is growing stronger and larger by the day. Those who try to use jail to frighten citizens pursuing freedom and democracy, thus obstructing the progress of human civilization, won’t meet a good end. Their tyranny is based on a lack of self-confidence — a sign of a guilty conscience and fear. It’s a dead end. When the masses wake up, will the dictatorship’s end be far off?

I have been subjected to torture and other forms of inhumane treatment during my detention thus far — and it’s not an isolated occurrence, but a common phenomenon. I appeal to the international community to closely follow the deterioration of human rights in China, follow the Chinese Communist Party’s criminal detention of its own citizens, and especially of dissidents, along with the other abuses they’re subjected to, including: false charges, secret detention, forced confessions to the media, forced appointment of state-controlled defense counsel, torture and abuse in custody, and the stripping of every civil right of Chinese citizens.

I hereby name the individuals involved in persecuting, torturing, and abusing me: An Shaodong (安少东), Chen Tuo (陈拓), Guan Jiantong (管建童), Yao Cheng (姚诚), Yuan Yi (袁溢), Wang Shoujian (王守俭), Xie Jinchun (谢锦春), Gong Ning (宫宁), Sheng Guowen (盛国文), Cao Jiyuan (曹纪元), Liu Yi (刘毅), Cai Shuying (蔡淑英), Lin Kun (林崑).

 

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