Friday, June 29, 2012

Brother Zhu, We Miss You

Ai Xiaoming @xiaocao07

Days ago, I learned that Zhu Chengzhi was detained as a criminal. I am very worried that he could face insane retaliation. This is a crazy age in a crazy space and time. The last message he sent me is regarding the detention of Li Wangyang’s sister. He hoped that we can support her. Soon after, he was also detained by the police.

I saw Mr. Zhu Chengzhi in a video clip of the three netizens case. In the video, he stood in the front of the parade and shouted with Ms. Wang Lihong: Free speech! Long live freedom! On August 12, 2011, I met him in face for the first time due to Ms. Wang Lihong’s first trial. The day before, I heard that Ms. Wang was going to have a trial and I traveled to Peking in a hurry. I was not sure whom to be met since many friends were under surveillance. Early in the morning at the east railway station of Beijing, I called a friend He Yang (also Lihong’s friend and a documentary producer) and asked him to pick me up. He Yang arrived with a thin and tall elder, Zhu Chengzhi. 
Zhu Chengzhi and He Yang at Beijing east station to pick me up. 8/12/2011

That morning we went to the detention center of Chaoyang district. We wanted to send money to Ms. Wang. But the police did not allow us and told us Ms. Wang did not need money. We know that other friends of Lihong sent her money often time. We went there to let her know: inside or outside of the detention center, we are all together. we also wanted to let the police know: you detained a respectful citizen. Such activity is injustice and violation of the constitution!
Zhu Chengzhi in front of the detention center of Chaoyang District 8/12/2011

That day we also went to the home of two sisters Ye Jinhua and Ye Jinchun. Both of them are rights activists in Peking. We interviewed Lihong’s lawyer Liu Xiaoyuan. In the evening, Brother Zhu, Tiantian and myself went to Lihong’s home. We cleaned Lihong’s rooms and discarded many rotten food in the fridge. I found the mooncakes that I sent in last mid-autumn were still there. She may want to save them and share with friends. Yet there was no opportunity. In 2011, many many sad things happened. (Remark, Ms. Wang was detained and lost freedom for about eight months in 2011).  

In the kitchen, Brother Zhu watered a plant. That was a yam. Lihong put it on a basel. In several months, it grew into feet long leaves. Brother Zhu said: these leaves contain many nutritions. When making the documentary, I thought about people like Lihong and Brother Zhu. They are just like yams, so simple so nice. Yet their hearts are full of compassion and strength. Facing unthinkable cruelty from the outside, they still give strength and meaning of life.

The second time I met Brother Zhu was on the night before Li Hong’s second trial. Lihong’s son Xiao Qi went to the airport to pick me up. We then waited and pick up Brother Zhu who also traveled to Peking through air. I dragged a luggage with video equipment with a broken handle. The handle was broken for long time. At Ye Jinhua’s home, Brother Zhu repaired the handle in several minutes. He was such a handy man! We all hurried to Peking via air upon learning the trial time. On Sep. 9, 2011 early morning, we arrived together at the WenYuhe courthouse of Chaoyang District. My heavy luggage was taken care by Brother Zhu. And he walked very fast. Brother Zhu said this is a piece of cake and nobody believed that he was already 60 years old. 
Outside the courthouse during Li Hong’s second trial. Lao Zhu and Xiao Qi.  
After the first trial: an accountant for Ai weiwei, Lao Zhu, Ai Xiaoming and a netizen from Shanghai

Twice I was with Brother Zhu at the courthouse during Lihong’s trials. In my documentaries “Let there be sunshine” and “post cards” , Brother Zhu can be seen. He talked with foreign media to prove that Wang Lihong did not violated any law at all. He and other friends including Zhao Lianhai cried out loud in front of the courthouse: Let Wang Lihong go home! No language is enough to describe Brother Zhu. Even you meet him for the first time, you know he is a long time friend no see. He is a friend that you can rely upon.

I did not meet Brother Zhu in face after that. I heard all his news from the internet. The day Lihong was sentenced, I had appointments and could not go to the courthouse. Brother Zhu went there and was detained by the police. Later on, he kept writing petitions to ask people support Li Wangyang.  In the past six months, my father got ill and I stayed at home to take care of him. Rarely did I get on the net and I did not reply the last message from Brother Zhu. I didn’t expect that after many years of torture as a political prisoner, Mr. Li wangyang was killed just after release! I signed my name on the petition letter proposed by Prof. Xia Yeliang of Beijing University et al to call for an investigation of his death. I want to pay my tribute to Mr. Li Wangyang’s spirit. I also want to support Mr. Zhu Chengzhi, a man I respect enormously.

Brother Zhu was once a successful entrepreneur. His property was illegally taken away and he became a petitioner and visited Peking for many years for his lawsuits. On the day of Lihong’s second trial, we went back from the courthouse. Lao Zhu said, next time he will invite many friends to Yunan. The place is enormously beautiful. Houses are enormously huge and everything you can see trees and plants. Before leaving Peking, Lao Zhu could not find his broken cell phone and tried very hard to find it. He purchased the cheapest railway ticket to go to Hunan province. It can be found that Lao Zhu was very thrifty at that time and he must have tough financial situation. Yet in order to catch the trial, he spent a lot to travel by air to Peking. On his way back, he had to tolerate the uncomfortable railway seat for long hours. In my impression, Lao Zhu was not only very thrifty on spending, he also ate very simple food. His own words are: just give me corn and pumkin.  

I hope to learn the good news about Brother Zhu. I hope he can eat Zong zi  for this dragon boat festival. Yet, after ten days detention, he was again sent to another detention house. I cannot be optimistic. At home, his 97-year old mother is expecting his release. His wife and two daughters are expecting his release …

I recalled the words of Lihong when she evaluated herself and her involvement of the three-netizen case: You Jinyou was punished by the police for his righteous action, then I can also be punished.

Right now, Zhu Chengzhi lost freedom and endangered his own life for his righteous action; tomorrow, we will pay the same price. The lost of freedom Zhu Chengzhi means that every one of us has lost freedom. One is too many!!!

Therefore, however plain my language is, I have to speak out. The police may never listen. Yet I wish my crying will be heard by Brother Zhu: Your friends are crying out loud towards the world:  Zhu Chengzhi is NOT guilty! Free Zhu Chengzhi!

video clips of the supporting group activities during the first and second trials of Wang Lihong:

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