The continuing imprisonment of Li Bifeng

(WorldWideReading for Li Bifeng 04.06.2013)

Dear Ladies and Gentlemen, Dear Friends,

Following the appeal, a copy of which is attached below, and in regard to the continuing imprisonment of Li Bifeng, the international literary festival berlin (ilb) is hereby calling artists and intellectuals, schools and universities, radio and TV stations, theatres and other cultural institutions to join us for a worldwide reading in solidarity with Li Bifeng to take place on the 4th of June 2013.

We would be very happy if you could support our appeal by signing our petition alongside the initial signatures of Herta Müller, Ai Weiwei, Salman Rushdie, Ha Jin, and Liao Yiwu. We would also be very happy if you would participate on the 4th of June by organising a reading in your own home town or city. You’ll find your texts written by and about Li Bifeng in the next two to four weeks on our website www.worldwide-reading.com.

If you would like to participate, please confirm your support by writing to: worldwidereading@literaturfestival.com.

My very best regards,

Ulrich Schreiber
Festival director

13th international literature festival berlin

Our appeal to the Chinese government to free Li Bifeng
The Peril of Creating State Enemies

(Please find a list of signee at the end of the appeal)

On the heels of the Chinese Communist Party’s 18th congress, a Chinese court sentenced underground poet Li Bifeng to 12 years in prison on November 19, 2012 on a fictitious charge. By doing so the world was sent a, as we believe, dangerous signal of political regression.

Liao Yiwu, an exiled Chinese writer now living in Germany, and Li Bifeng met each other in the Third Prison of Sichuan Province after the June 4th Tiananmen Square crackdown in 1989. Of the two dozen or so political prisoners there, the two became friends because of their shared interest in literature, and the friendship was continued beyond the prison walls.

Over the years they have exchanged manuscripts and shared their views upon life with each other. Li Bifeng was an optimist who, beside of writing about, also participated in pro-democracy activism, while Liao Yiwu, a pessimist, burrowed deep in writing and performed music in bars to make a living.

In 1998, Li Bifeng wrote a non-fiction piece about a sit-in protest by textile workers in his hometown Mianyang and their blockade of highways. He sent his documentary to human rights organizations overseas. His actions alarmed the local police, and he was again arrested after being on the run for six months. This time, the government changed its strategy. He was charged with “financial fraud”, and sentenced to seven years in prison.

Last September, two months after Liao Yiwu had slipped across the Chinese border into Vietnam, local security police called Li Bifeng to “have a cup of tea with them.” Li Bifeng followed the inquiry because he was routinely summoned by the police for their questionings. Then, in front of everyone, he was seized by five policemen, handcuffed and taken away in a police car.

Liao Yiwu didn’t hear of Li Bifeng’s arrest until May, 2012. Authorities suspected Li Bifeng of assisting Liao’s escape financially or physically, but in fact, he had nothing to do with Liao’s flight.

The trial of Li Bifeng lasted several months with repeated adjournments. Only days after China had completed its decennial power transition and the new leaders presented their faces on stage, several thousand kilometers away from Beijing in the small town Shehong, in the district of Sichuan, Li Bifeng was sentenced to 12 years in prison. The defence lawyer protested that “the evidence is dubious, and there is no victim in the so-called fraud!”

Li Bifeng is turning 48 years old this year and his three prison terms add up to 24 years.

Just like Liu Xiaobo, the winner of the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize, Li Bifeng embodies the political reality in China since the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown. But while Liu Xiaobo is regarded as part of the intellectual elite, Li Bifeng is of much lesser importance. Liu Xiaobo, in his letters to Liao Yiwu, tirelessly called for China’s own Václav Havel or Martin Luther King, Jr., and aspired to be like them. Li Bifeng, on the other hand, is one of the anonymous, silent majority. They share the same conscience and sense of responsibility with the elite, but they are buried in the filthy sewage of society and live like mice. These “mice,” ravaged in turn by poverty and tyranny, once marched in the streets of Chinese cities, protested, helped each other, and faced the bullets of troops enforcing martial law with their
bodies.

The two friends, Liao Yiwu and Li Bifeng, have given each other warmth over the years, the warmth of one mouse huddling against the other. However, Liao did not trust Li Bifeng – for a good reason. Among China’s political prisoners from the era of June 4th crackdown, Li Bifeng must be the record holder of failed escapes. Shortly after the movement in 1989 was crushed, he and a few others managed to get several kilometres into Myanmar before they were captured by Burmese communists who obeying handed them back to the Chinese communists. He was subsequently almost beaten to death and has sustained permanent disabilities since. Five years later he again was on the run for having gotten into trouble once more, but this time he tried the border between China and Russia in the Northeast. He bribed a local smuggler, but as he was waiting to get into a cargo container to be shipped out of the country, he overheard that the smuggler was going to sell him in Chifeng, a Chinese city on the other side of the Heilong River, as a slave worker. He ran for his life, traversing China to the southernmost city Shenzhen where he attempted to make it to Hong Kong by crossing Chung Ying Street (China-Britain Street). He loitered around for two hours, and was seized by suspicious border guards. After that, he braved three or four more border-crossing adventures, and failed every time. When he told these stories to Liao Yiwu, he managed to strike sadness into Liao and cause him to laugh his head off at the same the time.

Two months before Liao Yiwu’s own planned escape, also around the time when the Chinese artist Ai Weiwei disappeared in Beijing Capital International Airport, Li Bifeng invited Liao Yiwu for dinner. As usual, the two friends talked about their writings. Quite abruptly, Li asked Liao if he needed money. Liao said he did not. Li Bifeng then asked if he needed “help to go,” and Liao said he was not going anywhere.

Liao Yiwu was scared by Li’s inquiries and relieved that Li Bifeng, who was a junkie of fortunetelling using the Book of Changes, didn’t get anything out of him. How could Liao Yiwu, plotting a slip-away himself, possibly seek help from someone who himself tried it so often, and failed every single time?

By the time Li Bifeng completed the 12-year term, he will be 60 years old. He will then have to finally give up on the idea of running away. Even if he eventually arrived in the free world, what good would that do him?

Over the years, the Chinese authorities have impounded a large trove of Li Bifeng’s writings. Isn’t it enough to take away a writer’s work? Why send him to prison? China’s new leaders should understand that the imprisonment of an innocent man will draw wide compassion and indignation, just like the death of the innocent citizens in the massacre of 1989. Of all people, China’s new leader Xi Jinping should know better, as his own father was once an inmate in Mao Zedong’s prisons, also as an innocent man.

Now that Li Bifeng ’s story is being told by Liao Yiwu, it is going to reverberate for a long time to come. Since last May, more than 300 intellectuals around the world have signed the appeal to free Li Bifeng. And as the persecution of Li Bifeng continues, more and more people will join to make their voices heard.

We call on the Chinese government to release Li Bifeng. It is wrong to create fake charges against an innocent man, treat his life so wantonly, and destroy his family along the way. For those, who have to carry out their “judiciary” function for an authoritarian state, as long as they still have any humanity left, they cannot possibly be proud of the role they play. For the Chinese communist regime, nothing is more self-destructive than continuously manufacturing enemies for itself.

November, 25, 2012

(Translated by Yaxue Cao)

Initiated by:

Ai Weiwei, artist, Beijing.
Liao Yiwu, exiled author and musician, 2012 winner of the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade, Berlin.
Ha Jin, author, winner of American Book Award, Boston.
Herta Müller, author, winner of Nobel Prize for Literature, Berlin.
Salman Rushdie, winner of Booker Prize 1981, 1993 and 2008, USA.

This appeal to the Chinese government to free Li Bifeng was signed by:

Hector Abad, Joe Ahearn, Kwame Anthony Appiah, Homero Aridjis, Sun Baoqiang, Priya Basil, Artur Becker, Bei Ling, Yahia Belaskri, Henk Bernlef, Karin Betz, Wolf and Pamela Biermann, Yves Bonnefoy, Carmen Boullosa, Hans-Christoph Buch, Angelika Burgsteiner, Cai Yongmei, Cai Chu, Mircea Cartarescu, Amir Hassan Cheheltan, Chen Long, Chen Yong, Chen Sixian, Chen Kuide, Chiang Louisa, Choi SF, Dawei Bian, Michael Day, Dorothea Dieckmann, Jörn Donner, György Dragomán, Yasmine El Rashidi, Asli Erdogan, Peter Faecke, Fan Xirong, Fang Zheng, Fei Liangyong, Gisela Forster, Helmut Forster, Shamala Gallagher, Gao Yuan, Gao Sheng, Gebrüder Gao, Juan Goytisolo, Anatolij Grinvald, Yeemei Guo, Lars Gustafsson, Ha Jin, Han Liuyin, Han Guang, Han Wenguang, He Xintong, Hen Jie, Hong Xiaohan, Hou Zhiming, Hu Di, Hu Jian, Hu Dong, Hu Muqing, Hu Ping, Hu Shilin, Huang Xiang, Elfriede Jelinek, Jiang Tanwen, Peter Stephan Jungk, Siegfried Knittel, Gerd Koenen, Kong Shiren, Alexis Kouriche, Wjatscheslaw Kuprijanow, Viacheslav Kupriyanov, Li Renke, Li Zhengkai, Li Hengqing, Liang Yongchun, Liao Zhifeng, Paulo Lins, Liu Chunling, Liu Haoran, Liu Xianhua, Liu Yanzi, Liu Xuan, Liu Yunxia, Liu Wenxian, Liu Qing, Torbjörn Lodén, Lu Mao, Lun Zhang, Luo Yaqi, Monica Macansantos, N.G.D Malmqvist, Norman Manea, Alberto Manguel, Predrag Matvejevic, Meng Lang, Courtney Meredith, Dragana Mladenovic, Herta Müller, Christiane Neudecker, Ntone Edjabe, Gunilla Palmstierna-Weiss, Laurie Parker, Peng Xiaoming, Pian Shan, Martin Pollack, Qi An, Moritz Rinke, Solo Robinson, Lia Romeo, Sabah Zouein, Zuzka Sabata, Boualem Sansal, Faraj Sarkohi, Uli Schreiber, Christa Schuenke, Eduardo Sguiglia, Eduardo Sguiglia, Shen Zhaohua, Sheng Xue, Sjón, Tzveta Sofronieva, Wolfgang Sofsky, Song Zhiwei, Peter Stamm, Su Yutong, Su Ming, Su Xiaokang, Tajima Shinji, Tan Jun, Tang Xiaodu, Tao Wen, Janne Teller, Teng Biao, Mei Ann Teo, Madeleine Thien, Martin-Liao Tienchi, Mariam Toews, Tong Mu, Streten Ugricic, Keto von Waberer, Anne Waldman, Wang Lixiong, Wang Liling, Wang Dan, Wang Xingzhong, Wang Ju, Wang Yiliang, Wen Yunchao (Bei Feng), Wen Xiuying, Wenfen Chen, Herbert Wiesner, Stéfan Ludmilla Wieszner, Martin Winter, Martin Winter, Woser Tsering, Wu Wenjian, Wu Yisan, Wu Shiyu, Wu Jiemin, Xin Hong, Xu Hui, Xu Zerong, Xu Wenli, Xuan Feng, Yan Ming, Yang Feng, Yang Lian, Ye Du, Ye Fu, Ye Zhongyuan, Yi Jun, Yi Ping, Yu Zhiguan, Yu Luojin, Yue Lin, Zeng Dekuang, Zeng Jiming, Zeng Jianyuan, Zhang Xiaogang, Zhang Wie, Zhang Yong, Zhang Jian, Zhang Pu, Zhang Hongtu, Zhang Jing, Zhang Ling, Zhang Min, Zheng Yi, Zhong Weiguang, Zhong Yan and Zhu Xiaozheng.

 


 

簽名發起人:艾未未 廖亦武 哈金 赫塔·米勒 薩爾曼·魯西迪

在中共帝國十八大閉幕之際,地下詩人李必豐被判12年重刑,我們認為這是一個危險的倒退 信號。
李必豐和作家廖亦武相識於四川省第三監獄,當時的大墻內,二十多名六四政治犯中,唯有 他倆因酷愛文學而臭味相投,雖然在寫作理念上時有衝突,但彼此的密切交往,卻一直延續
到獄外。兩人交換手稿,交換對人生的看法。李必豐是積極向上的,所以在寫作之餘,還投
身民主運動;廖亦武是消極向下的,所以除了去酒吧賣藝,埋頭碼字。

李必豐二進宮是1998年,因為他將家鄉綿陽,紡織工人靜坐示威,阻斷高速公路的英勇事跡
寫成報道文學,提供給海外人權組織,驚動了警方,所以在倉皇逃竄半年後,再次被捕。這
次中共帝國改變策略,以所謂“經濟詐騙罪”,判了他7年。

李必豐三進宮是2012年,廖亦武從中越邊境神秘出逃兩個多月之後。仲秋的某天下午,當地
國保警察按常規,打電話給李必豐,邀約喝茶談事。他去了,結果在眾目睽睽之下,冷不
防,5個警察一擁而上,將李必豐按翻在地,上背銬并塞進警車。

漫長的秘密審訊,從去年9月持續到今年5月,已經在德國的廖亦武,才偶爾從國內渠道得
知,李必豐因受自己連累而入獄的消息,如遭雷擊。警方推測,廖亦武的成功出逃,得到了
李必豐資助或直接協助。但事實上,廖亦武的出逃與李必豐沒任何關係。

可是獨裁的栽贓故伎還是重演了。以“經濟詐騙罪”,李必豐再次被重刑12年。這是一個特殊關口,中共帝國十八大閉幕,權力爭斗告一段落,新班子登臺亮相——而在距離京城幾千公里
的四川小縣城射洪的法庭上,在“此案證據可疑,也沒有受害者”的律師抗辯聲中,在幾個月中
數次休庭之後,這個名不見經傳的詩人被重判。他今年48歲,三次累積刑期達到24年。
李必豐和2009年諾貝爾和平獎得主劉曉波一樣,是1989年天安門大屠殺至今,中國歷史的象
徵性人物。所不同的是,劉曉波是典型的知識精英,他在寫給廖亦武的信中,堅持不懈地呼
喚中國的瓦茨拉夫.哈維爾和馬丁.路德.金,他也有對如此理想人物的自我期許;而李必豐則概括了草根階層的命運。他們是沉默的大多數,他們並不缺乏知識精英的良知和責任感,可是他們被埋葬在骯髒的下水道裏,過著老鼠一般上竄下跳的生活。這些被貧窮和專制交替輪姦的老鼠,這些一夜之間就只能選擇永遠閉嘴的老鼠,曾經擠滿中國的幾十座城市,遊行示
威,見義勇為,以熱血沸騰的肉體迎接戒嚴部隊的子彈。

廖亦武承認,李必豐在這些年給過他不少黑暗中的溫暖,那種老鼠之間皮毛磨蹭的溫暖。卻沒有帶給他絲毫信任感。在他出逃前的兩個月,也就是藝術家艾未未在北京機場失蹤前後,李必豐請他吃飯,習慣性地探討寫作之餘,突然問他缺錢嗎?他回答不缺錢。李必豐又問缺門路嗎?他回答我哪兒都不去。
廖亦武虛驚一場,暗自慶幸熱衷用《周易》算命的李必豐沒從他嘴裏套出什麽。李必豐是中 國六四政治犯中,越境逃跑吉尼斯記錄的保持者。天安門大屠殺之後,他第一次伙同他人從 雲南邊境逃亡,已經深入緬甸國土幾公里,卻被緬甸共產黨抓捕,拱手送交中國共產黨。他被打得死去活來,身體落下殘疾。5年後出獄,又惹事又逃亡,先去東北的中俄邊境,買通當地蛇頭,已經等著進集裝箱了,卻無意間聽見蛇頭密談,要將他當作黑工賣到黑龍江彼岸的赤峰。於是他轉身再逃,橫穿中國,抵達南方深圳,企圖從中英街過境。不料轉悠兩小時後,引起邊防武警懷疑,當場拿獲。
接下來還有三到四次的越境歷險,令廖亦武悲從中來又笑掉大牙。這麽一個屢屢落網的掃帚星,廖亦武在自己越境逃亡之際,怎麽可能和他扯上關係?但是中共帝國殘暴而愚蠢,不青紅皂白。如果這次李必豐蹲滿12年,就60歲了。一個糟老頭子,逃不動了,死心了,即使抵達自由世界,一個外語字母不識,也沒啥用了。

這麽個缺乏政治頭腦的李必豐,警方在這些年搜走他幾百萬字的作品,不還也就罷了,為什
麼還要送他坐牢?新的國家領導人習近平應該明白——因為習近平的爸爸也坐過毛澤東的牢——讓一個無辜的人坐牢,正如讓一個無辜的人在1989年被殺戮一樣,會引起廣範的同情,
如果被廖亦武這樣居心叵測的作家記載了,還會引起長久的歷史性的憤怒。從今年5月迄今,
已經有300多名世界各地的知識份子參與了營救李必豐的簽名,相信在12年間,簽名人數將緩慢增加到數萬。

我們呼籲中國政府釋放李必豐。制造冤案、草菅人命、搞得人家妻離子散是不對的。如果辦
案人員還有一點點人性,這也不會給你們帶來絲毫形而下的快感。況且一再製造國家敵人,
對於政權本身,是最危險的。

發起人:
艾未未,藝術家,現居北京
廖亦武,作家和音樂家,德國書業和平獎得主,現居柏林
哈金,作家,美國國家圖書獎得主,現居波士頓
赫塔·米勒 (Herta Müller),作家,諾貝爾文學奬得主,現居柏林
薩爾曼·魯西迪 (Salman Rushdie),作家,曼布克獎1981年、1993年及2008年得主,現居美國:

Hector Abad, Joe Ahearn, Kwame Anthony Appiah, Homero Aridjis, Sun Baoqiang, Priya Basil, Artur Becker, Bei Ling, Yahia Belaskri, Henk Bernlef, Karin Betz, Wolf und Pamela Biermann, Yves Bonnefoy, Carmen Boullosa, Hans-Christoph Buch, Angelika Burgsteiner, Cai Yongmei, Cai Chu, Mircea Cartarescu, Amir Hassan Cheheltan, Chen Long, Chen Yong, Chen Sixian, Chen Kuide, Chiang Louisa, Choi SF, Dawei Bian, Michael Day, Dorothea Dieckmann, Jörn Donner, György Dragomán, Yasmine El Rashidi, Asli Erdogan, Peter Faecke, Fan Xirong, Fang Zheng, Fei Liangyong, Gisela Forster, Helmut Forster, Shamala Gallagher, Gao Yuan, Gao Sheng, Gebrüder Gao, Juan Goytisolo, Anatolij Grinvald, Yeemei Guo, Lars Gustafsson, Ha Jin, Han Liuyin, Han Guang, Han Wenguang, He Xintong, Hen Jie, Hong Xiaohan, Hou Zhiming, Hu Di, Hu Jian, Hu Dong, Hu Muqing, Hu Ping, Hu Shilin, Huang Xiang, Elfriede Jelinek, Jiang Tanwen, Peter Stephan Jungk, Siegfried Knittel, Gerd Koenen, Kong Shiren, Alexis Kouriche, Wjatscheslaw Kuprijanow, Viacheslav Kupriyanov, Li Renke, Li Zhengkai, Li Hengqing, Liang Yongchun, Liao Zhifeng, Paulo Lins, Liu Chunling, Liu Haoran, Liu Xianhua, Liu Yanzi, Liu Xuan, Liu Yunxia, Liu Wenxian, Liu Qing, Torbjörn Lodén, Lu Mao, Lun Zhang, Luo Yaqi, Monica Macansantos, N.G.D Malmqvist, Norman Manea, Alberto Manguel, Predrag Matvejevic, Meng Lang, Courtney Meredith, Dragana Mladenovic, Herta Müller, Christiane Neudecker, Ntone Edjabe, Gunilla Palmstierna-Weiss, Laurie Parker, Peng Xiaoming, Pian Shan, Martin Pollack, Qi An, Moritz Rinke, Solo Robinson, Lia Romeo, Sabah Zouein, Zuzka Sabata, Boualem Sansal, Faraj Sarkohi, Uli Schreiber, Christa Schuenke, Eduardo Sguiglia, Eduardo Sguiglia, Shen Zhaohua, Sheng Xue, Sjón, Tzveta Sofronieva, Wolfgang Sofsky, Song Zhiwei, Peter Stamm, Su Yutong, Su Ming, Su Xiaokang, Tajima Shinji, Tan Jun, Tang Xiaodu, Tao Wen, Janne Teller, Teng Biao, Mei Ann Teo, Madeleine Thien, Martin-Liao Tienchi, Mariam Toews, Tong Mu, Streten Ugricic, Keto von Waberer, Anne Waldman, Wang Lixiong, Wang Liling, Wang Dan, Wang Xingzhong, Wang Ju, Wang Yiliang, Wen Yunchao (Bei Feng), Wen Xiuying, Wenfen Chen, Herbert Wiesner, Stéfan Ludmilla Wieszner, Martin Winter, Martin Winter, Woser Tsering, Wu Wenjian, Wu Yisan, Wu Shiyu, Wu Jiemin, Xin Hong, Xu Hui, Xu Zerong, Xu Wenli, Xuan Feng, Yan Ming, Yang Feng, Yang Lian, Ye Du, Ye Fu, Ye Zhongyuan, Yi Jun, Yi Ping, Yu Zhiguan, Yu Luojin, Yue Lin, Zeng Dekuang, Zeng Jiming, Zeng Jianyuan, Zhang Xiaogang, Zhang Wie, Zhang Yong, Zhang Jian, Zhang Pu, Zhang Hongtu, Zhang Jing, Zhang Ling, Zhang Min, Zheng Yi, Zhong Weiguang, Zhong Yan und Zhu Xiaozheng.