Thursday, June 28, 2012

Wang Lihong: What I know about Zhu Chengzhi

Author: Wang Lihong

Initial Impression 

62- year old Zhu Chengzhi is from Hunan Shaoyang.

The first time I met Zhu was in 2009. A netizen “Tiger’s temple” in Peking (he was forced to leave Peiking later and is now residing in Xi’an) posted on the net and proposed an activity to extend help to homeless people. The activity is called “let there be no people frozen to death”. Before that, every winter, there were homeless people frozen to death in Tiananmen square. Soon, a group of people in Peking started to donate money and materials to rent several rooms at a street in Daxing District to house these people. This group of people brought donations and gathered every weekend at the place - the camp.

One day, “Tiger’s temple” said there was a newcomer. While he was talking, a slim elder walked across the street. He was medium tall and stood straight. He wore a Chinese style jacket, a navy blue pant, and a pair of Chinese style black shoes. The most vivid characteristics: he has the “goat” style beards and he looked such a spiritual person! When he started to talk: oh, man, he was so talkative. He has Hunan accent. In a simple sentence, he’ll add many adjuncts: “yes or no”, “this is to say”, “ahhh....”, “right...”. And he talks super slow! all I wanted was to escape from such a speaker.

Lao Zhu was also fond of calling people and he never initiated hung up. And the talk was LONG. In the end, I was not only afraid of talking with him face to face but also afraid of picking up his calls. Yet, when Zhu was with me, he tried his best to be concise. Maybe he knew what I thought.

When Lao Zhu came to Peking, he left an impression that he was a rich man. One of the challenging tasks at that time was to collect funds for Xiao Zhang, who needed treatment for his legs. Lao Zhu donated 10K RMB. Another challenging task is to help homeless people support themselves. Lao Zhu lived closeby and he went to the camp daily. He did many tasks and looked for a hospital for Xiao Zhang. He lived in a motel costing RMB 30 Yuan daily. From his living condition, he was not rich at all -- no better than most of the petitioners.

I am a quiet person and was not a fan of talktive persons. Yet, the talktive Lao Zhu worked hard and silently and he won respects from all. 

Three-Netizen Case & Others

In the end of June and early July 2009, the three-netizen case occurred in FuJian. Lao Zhu heard about the stories of the three netizens. One of them,  You Jinyou, cared about public welfare and helped powerless people in many years. Three of them (You Jinyou, Fan Yanjiong, and Wu Huaying) spoke out for the mother of Yan Xiaoling (who was beaten to death by thugs) and were framed. Without any hesitation, Lao Zhu joined the group to support the three netizens.

On March 19 and April 16 2010, Lao Zhu went to the court at Mawei city in Fujian province to listen to the trial of the three netizens . On April 16, 2010, while waiting for the court decision with the support group, Lao Zhu patiently explained to the police officers in charge, helped them understand the case and won their trust. His calm and wisdom made the support activity smooth. While he heard the verdict that the three netizens were sentenced to jail for one or two years each, he cried so hard like a baby. At that time, I thought, Lao Zhu was sometimes the old and the wise, sometimes the young and the innocent.

In recent years, every April 29, Lao Zhu went to Suzhou in Jiangsu Province for the memorial service of Lin Zhao ( A Peking University student, sentenced to death and killed during the culture revolution for thought crime). He was “invited” to the police station twice. During the interrogation, Lao Zhu started his long talks. Finally, the police officers let go: Mr. Zhu, please, you can leave now. Guess what? Lao Zhu said: no hurry, I haven’t finished, yes or no? right? Let me make myself clear, this is to say ….

Lao Zhu:  Once a Business Man Now a Rights Activist

Lao Zhu was a co-owner of a mine in Yunan Province. Due to conflicts of financial interests with local officials, his property was confiscated. He sued and sued and the final verdict from the court was illegally changed by some powerful people. Lao Zhu was so furious and he protested at the High Court of Yunan Provice by drinking poisons. Lao Zhu asked me to write an article for him about his lawsuits. I was puzzled facing a huge stack of the documents. In the end, I could not have a clear clue of all the financial calculations and numbers. I never started to write the article. Now I am feeling sorry for Lao Zhu.

Lao Zhu is such an open-minded and selfless person. He no longer worries about his unsolved case. He had two lawyers: Liu Xiao Yuan and Lin Hongnan to represent himself. At the meanwhile, he kept working on public welfare. Many petitioners consulted him regarding laws, and he explained, analyzed and persuaded them for hours and hours.

Lao Zhu is also a tech savvy person who loves new techs. He was curious about internet, computer and Twitter. He can also drive a car. Most surprisingly, he can repair cars. According to Ar, when they drove for fun in Yunan province, the car broke. Ar can do nothing. Lao Zhu got it fixed in a short period. Friends call Lao Zhu “old kid” since he was so fun. 

Cry Out for Li Wang Yang

On June 6, 2012, at Lao Zhu’s hometown, Shaoyang of Hunan Province, an unthinkable crime happened. A former classmate of Lao Zhu’s, Li Wangyang, was said to commit suicide. Li was put into jail for 22 years due to his participation in the 1989 pro-democracy movement. After he was released from the jail in 2011, he lost his vision and hearing. He was sick and penniless. Lao Zhu has a warm heart. He went to visit his classmate. He chatted with him and called for donation.

In the morning of June 6, Lao Zhu and Li’s sister Li Wangling were called by the hospital and informed that Li committed suicide. The death was obviously anything like a suicide. Seeing an old friend hung on a window after 22 years of torture, Lao Zhu must have experienced furious storms in his heart.  Just two days ago, they were chatting happily. He was moved by his old friend’s spirit. He was thinking to bring his friend to Peking for treatment of hearing loss. Lao Zhu took photos and videos of the crime scenes and sent them to the net.

The death of Li Wangyang was reported widely by the world and intrigued furor in Hong Kong. Local police was furious and they controlled Lao Zhu and Li Wangyang’ family members. Lao Zhu was asked to write a letter to guarantee that he would be silent. If he signed the letter, the police would release him. Lao Zhu refused to do so and he was to be detained for 10 days and released on June 18. Yet after 10 days on June 18th, he was still not released. Lao Zhu’s wife was waiting outside the detention center for a whole day and she did not find Lao Zhu. The next morning, she was informed by the police that Lao Zhu had been sent to a different place.

There was no written notice. And his wife did not know what to do. 


Lao Zhu: you are out of the time. In this ridiculous land called China, being righteous is a crime. You have committed crimes for “speaking out”, “crying out”, “making videos”, “being righteous”, “making troubles for the government”, and etc.

Yet, today, facing the injustice, facing the evil, there are less and less “smart people” who remain silent, more and more “not so smart people” who speak out and overcome the fear. They may also bring danger to themselves. Every life is equal. Supporting each other with compassion is the basic meaning of our lives. Or else, we are living in hells eternally.

Zhu Chengzhi: in this country, being a man is a crime. Such is the value of the tyranny machine. Such is its soft power to be exported to the world. The tyranny machine crushes every one who dares to speak out and stand out. You are one of these “not so smart people”. Yet, there are more and more you kind of people. 

Lao Zhu: we are calling for your release. We are waiting for you. We are waiting to hear your long talks.

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