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Please help to free Gao Yu
Prominent Chinese journalist and outspoken advocate for a free press Gao Yu was criminally detained for allegedly leaking state secrets. Ending speculation over her whereabouts two weeks after she disappeared, on May 8, 2014 Chinese state television CCTV aired what appears to be Gao Yu’s confession. It is an obvious fact to anyone who closely follows the human rights situation in China that the CCP is up to its old tricks again. Since Xi Jinping took power, methods and tools that were used during the Cultural Revolution have been dusted off and reapplied to suppress dissidents. Those who are regarded as a thorn in the side of the regime are vilified as being involved in prostitution, disturbance of public order, dissemination of rumors, evasion of tax, leaking of state secrets, among other crimes. Those who are influential in the public were aired on CCTV by showing them personally confessing their “crimes”, though these so-called confessions were attained through threats and torture. The desired effect is not only to shock the public, but also to warn and silence those in society with different voices.
Gao Yu, who recently turned 70, was imprisoned in 1989 and 1993. However, she never has given up her beliefs and continues to be an outspoken critic of the government. She has received many international awards for her principled stands, including the first annual UNESCO/ Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize in 1997.
The state secret that Gao Yu was accused to have leaked is Document No 9 of the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party. The Document detailed the government’s vision of maintaining ideological controls, and a number of ideological trends, positions, and activities are taken as false and dangerous:
1.Promoting Western constitutional democracy in an attempt to undermine the current leadership and the socialism with Chinese characteristics system of governance.
2.Promoting “universal values” in an attempt to weaken the theoretical foundations of the Party’s leadership.
3.Promoting civil society in an attempt to dismantle the ruling party’s social foundation.
4.Promoting Neoliberalism in an attempt to change China’s Basic Economic System.
5.Promoting the West’s idea of journalism and challenging China’s principle that the media and publishing system should be subject to Party discipline.
6.Promoting historical nihilism in an attempt to undermine the history of the CCP and of New China.
7.Questioning Reform and Opening and the socialist nature of socialism with Chinese characteristics.
The document emphasizes that media management must always be firmly controlled by someone who maintains an identical ideology with the Party’s Central Committee, under General Secretary Xi Jinping’s leadership.
According to the Article 5 of the “New State Secrets Implementing Regulations”, which became effective on 1 March 2014, “State organs and units must not determine as state secrets matters that are to be made public in accordance with law.” Document No 9 aims to maintain ideological controls and the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party requests its “thorough implementation”. This Document has been sent to local divisional levels, as indicated at the very beginning. How can such a document be kept secret? How can it be a state secret? To define it as a state secret is against the new Regulations. Besides, to define a party document as a state secret is against the principle of separation of party and state. Moreover, Document No 9 was distributed on 22 April 2014 and was publically reported afterwards by many local newspapers and websites. Last August the magazine Mirror Monthly first published the “leaked” Document on its website. To accuse Gao Yu of leaking state secrets is undoubtedly absurd, but it’s always easy to find a pretext to condemn someone, regardless of whether it is based on fact.
Human rights have no boundary. Human rights violations are not internal affairs of states. The case of Gao Yu demands your high attention. Please urge the Chinese government to abide by the principles of freedom of press and rule of law, and to release Gao Yu immediately.
Gao Yu was once arrested after the Tiananmen Square protests in 1989. She is an iconic figure who has a special association with the June 4 incident. On 6 May 2014, ahead of the particularly sensitive 25th anniversary of the June 4th Tiananmen Square crackdown, a number of activists were rounded up. These activists, who had attended a low-key gathering on 3 May 2014 to commemorate the June 4 event, included well-known human rights lawyer Pu Zhiqiang, lecturer Hu Shigen, researcher Xu Youyu, writer Liu Di and professor Hao Jian. Gao Yu failed to participate in the meeting because she was illegally detained since 24 April 2014. The Chinese authorities intend to set warning examples to whoever wants to hold events related to 4 June.
Please pay close attention to the fates of these dissidents. The democratization of China is the key to a worldwide democratization. The June 4 incident is a critical historical milestone on the path to a democratic and free China.
Thank you very much for your attention and support!
Director of Forum for a Democratic China and Asia (FDCA)
May 10, 2014