Author: username7

Very caring and brave Chinese, defininely not indifferent   [Copy link] 中文

Rank: 4

Post time 2011-11-14 10:21:38 |Display all floors

At the gates of Dongshigu

It was the morning of 16 October. Our car ran for 10 minutes and arrived at an old aqueduct, a remnant of Mao's era. We'd driven to Dongshigu's village gate but then turned around after seeing a couple of burly guards at the entrance.

Instead we got off a kilometre away from Dongshigu. Nuola stayed to set up our base. It was eight in the morning. Just as we were leaving a young man, medium height, skinny, ran towards us with a green coat in his hands. He looked like he'd just finished his night shift. Seeing us, he reached for his phone and made a call. We pretended not to see, and walked towards Dongshigu.

At the gate of Dongshigu is a single road. Flanking the road are two ordinary houses. There were people both inside and outside those houses. I walked towards one of them when a short man wearing a grey-green jacket blocked my way. "What are you doing?" he asked.

"Is this place Dongshigu village?" I asked, smiling.

Ignoring my question, he repeated his: "What are you doing?"

"We're here to see a man called Chen Guangcheng. May I ask if he lives here?"

Taken aback by my directness, he paused. Then covertly he leaned in towards me to say, "Well, there have been some robberies recently here in the village. You know, chickens, cows. So I can't let you in."

I chuckled: "Oh we're not here to steal anything. Don't worry. We're just here to see Chen Guangcheng. We'll leave immediately afterwards."

His expression turned stern. A few others came out of the house, among them a middle aged man wearing a black velvet jacket. The man had a mild face but his words were brusque: "It's harvest season. All the men are gone. We're afraid of losing things so you can't come in."

"We're not here to steal!" exclaimed Enchao, "Don't worry!"

Xiaoshan started talking legalities: "Who knows who you guys are? Look, come over here, come, come. I'll introduce you. I'm a writer, called Murong Xuechun. This here is Wang Xiaoshan, newspaper columnist; this is Zhang Enchao, digital web director; this is Hu Zhongqiang…"

Velvet Jacket started to lose his patience. "I don't give a ---- who you people are. I said you can't come in didn't I? That means you can't come in!"

The scene turned stiff and airless. I took a wad of cash from my pocket, probably around 2000 RMB. "Afraid we're going to steal from you? Look, I'll just put this money here with you, as collateral."

"Or you can come with us if you don't trust us. When we come out you can inspect us," said Enchao.

Velvet Jacket shook his head vigorously. "Put your money away! I don't want your money! What would I do with your money?"

"How about we give you our IDs. That would give you a piece of mind, right?" said Enchao They stopped talking. None of them spoke. I decided to start walking again. Two steps in, Green Jacket grabbed me. "Stop! Stop ealking!"

After that they gave us another two or three minutes of silent treatment. No matter what we said, no one replied. Zhongqiang took out a pack of Tarzans and went around offering each guard a cigarette. None of the guards responded.

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Post time 2011-11-14 10:22:40 |Display all floors
n China, when one confronts trouble, one of the only solutions is to appeal to a political leader. Xiaoshan said: "If you can't make a decision, then call your village chief. We want to talk to him." A few of them started speaking at the same time, in a local dialect. Something sounded off, they sounded… like they were laughing at Xiaoshan. "And you want to talk legalities? Who says the 'chief' any more?" (Incidentally we learned that the "village chiefs" have been rechristened "village directors")

We stood there for almost an hour but still couldn't get into the village. We also didn't want to leave so we lingered around. Meanwhile, there were villagers strolling and biking in and out of the village gate. No one even seemed to notice us. They looked calm. It was clear to us that these villagers had seen situations like ours. Some of them even stopped to talk to Velvet Jacket. They smiled sweetly at him and spoke in ellipses, as if they shared a secret language. These people must have known Chen Guangcheng. They might have even been his student, friends, or relatives. But in this place, at this time, no one cared about what was happening to him. These villagers treated him as if he were a stranger, or an enemy. All these villagers had come together to gang up against one blind man.

According to rumours, Dongshigu has implemented a multi-layer security system. The gate was only the first step, probably the easiest to get past, and yet we'd exhausted ourselves to no avail. As I said, all I wanted to know was what it takes to visit a person, and I'd gotten my answer: as impossible as walking to the sky. I sat down with my legs crossed and put on a loutish pose. With all the hate I could muster towards Velvet Jacket, I said: "You don't let us into the village. Well, I'm going to sit here! If I don't see Chen Guangcheng today, I won't leave!" Inside I thought: "Well, I guess this isn't a bad way to buy time…"

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Post time 2011-11-14 10:23:31 |Display all floors
At the time, I had no idea what they were going to do. Very quickly, two buses arrived. The doors opened and what followed was a skirmish to try to get us onto the bus. Two men grabbed Zhongqiang, two men had Enchao, and one man had Wang Xiaoshan. No one paid attention to me. Only after pushing the other three onto the bus, did the guards make a circle around me. Two of them grabbed my left arm. Another two grabbed my right arm. They dragged me violently towards the vehicle. The scene was anarchy. Everyone was yelling something. I was screaming too, "Let go! I'm not leaving!" People were pushing and shoving. I grabbed the bus door and refused to let go. They started shaking the door. The conductor panicked: "Let go! Don't break my car!" I held on. Velvet Jacket blew his top and started punching my arm. Someone yelled "Stop! Stop!" By that point Xiaoshan told me: "Forget it, and just come in," and so finally, I let go. Humiliated, I stepped onto the bus. Before the door closed, I turned to Velvet Jacket. "You wait, I'll be back immediately!" He ignored me. The driver yelled "Close the door! We're going!"

I bought four bus tickets. Because of all that happened, I didn't even notice how much I paid, or where we were going. The driver and the ticket collector had obviously seen this kind of scuffle before. They looked calm. I got their attention and said "We just wanted to go see a friend!" Xiaoshan got up too. "There is a blind man in this village named Chen Guangcheng! Who has heard of him!" One of the patrons replied: "I think I've heard of him. Heard he was in jail." The middle-aged woman next to me muttered "In jail? Sounds like a bad apple!" I had no words. Slowly I felt a pain in my right hand, and discovered that my ring finger was gushing blood. Probably hurt it when we were pulling at the door.

The bus arrived at the aqueduct. I told the driver to stop. He smiled, and said: "There's no use getting off here. Take a look at what's behind us. They've been tailing us the whole time. Even if you could get off, they'd kick you back up here." One of the cars was a black Santana with no license plate. I didn't know what kind of car the other was.

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Post time 2011-11-14 10:24:05 |Display all floors
At Qingtuo we got off the bus. Thirty or 40 metres behind us, the Santana cruised slowly. We moved, they moved. We stopped, they stopped. The windows were tinted, but I had a feeling that the man inside the car was taking pictures of us. I wanted to confront them, but Enchao stopped me.

At the end of the road we waved down two buses, but neither stopped for us. The first one actually stopped and asked us where we were going. We said Dongshigu, but the conductor waved us off: "Not going!" He slammed the door with a loud clang, and then proceeded to drive directly in Dongshigu's direction. The second bus didn't even stop for us. It slowed down at first, but drove away quickly when it got a close look at us. Zhongqiang said "I bet you all the buses on this line have been warned, we shouldn't depend on them." The other three answered in unison: "Then we'll walk to Dongshigu!"

The distance from Qingtuo and Dongshigu is about 10 kilometres, not far, but not close. Xiaoshan said Dongshan's scenery wasn't bad, and we could treat it as exercise. We started our journey on foot. This was late autumn of 2011. The sky was blue. The air smelt like dry grass. Leaves were falling.

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Post time 2011-11-14 10:24:54 |Display all floors

Violence on the road

Once I saw a photo of Chen Guangcheng on the internet. Wearing an old suit, he stands in front of his house with his head tilted. He wears a sunny smile, and looks confident. While writing this essay, I searched for this photo more than once. I didn't understand how he could wear such a fresh smile, but slowly, it began to dawn on me. Here is the difference between those who are brave and those who are ordinary. We are all made the same. Like everyone, he is afraid of suffering and he experiences fear. And yet he continues to hope, continues to believe that the world gets better, that these abnormal days will come to an end.

Almost everyone in our generation has read the book Believe in the Future:

    "When cobwebs clog my stove
    When its dying smoke sigh for poverty
    I will stubbornly dig out the disappointing ash
    And write on snowflakes: Believe in the Future"

This poem was written in 1968 during an abnormal time. That year, the historian Jian Bozan and his wife committed suicide. Tian Han, the lyricist of our national anthem, died in prison. That year, ordinary citizens silently endured a life of injustice. But the real heroes were the ones who held onto hope, who still believed in the future, who still had faith that the world would turn back to normal.

I'm not saying this to praise myself. I'm no hero. I'm someone who wants to be at the side of a hero, doing the little that I can.

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Post time 2011-11-14 10:25:32 |Display all floors
We'd gone 200 metres in the direction of Dongshigu when another van drove towards us, stopping in front of us. A young man jumped out. He was tall, wore his hair stylishly and wore a black round-neck T-shirt that revealed part of a tattoo on his chest.

There were six men behind him. Some of them were wearing black. Silently they surrounded us. The afore-mentioned young man decided that I was the chief criminal, and ran straight for me, grabbed my neck with one hand, and pressed my arm violently behind my back with his other hand. At the same time the van roared past our bodies. Zhongqiang and Enchao yelled: "What are you doing? If you have something to say, say it!" Our antagonists acted as if they didn't hear a word and shoved us onto the other side of the road.

I was furious, we all were. Crowding in, we yelled: "Where the hell do you get off!"

One of them said: "This is my territory, I do as I want!"

Beside himself, Enchao roared: "This is Qingtuo not Dongshigu! This is your territory?"

"That's right!"

"Who's your leader? Let's sit and talk," I said.

They said nothing.

"Then we won't go to Dongshigu, we'll go to Lingyi. You can't do anything about that," said Xiaoshan.

Xiaoshan started walking, and was grabbed by a guy. "Stop, don't move!"

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Post time 2011-11-14 10:26:18 |Display all floors
I started to panic, and pulled out my housekeeping moves. "Get this straight. We are the citizens of the People's Republic of China! Without a trial, no one can take away our freedom!"

I admit that these words weren't appropriate at the time. They were extremely naive. In this country, the law is not a shield, at least not our shield. So I wasn't surprised when the young man knocked down my words: "Law? We're not talking law with you!"

These words effectively enraged everyone. We'd been standing with our backs against each other, but now each man stood his own ground. My deepest impression is that of Enchao. Some guy kept on tearing at him. Enchao looked like a lion experiencing psychosis, his eyes wide, and his long hair loose. He kept howling in anguish at his opponent: "Where do you get off?! Where do you get off?! Where do you get off?!"

A few minutes later another bus came towards us. They tried to shove us onto the vehicle. We struggled against them. I had only one thought: leave. The farther we go the better! One man kept following me, harassing me and twisting my arm. He was very strong. Mixed in with this chaos were the sound of a bus engine, the sound of wrists cracking, and the words: "You lowlifes!"

Afterward I found out that all of us had met our misfortunes. Enchao's new leather jacket had been ripped. Zhongqiang got hit in the stomach twice. Someone had kicked Xiaoshan in the legs. I didn't feel anything at the time, but found bruises on my arms after I returned to Beijing. These wounds don't represent the totality of what our antagonists could have done to us. It wouldn't have been hard to mess me up completely. It wouldn't be hard to kill me. I have to admit that they never tried to hurt us badly. Theirs was a symbolic form of violence.

At one point the young man in the black T-shirt grabbed my neck and shoved me forward. I fell onto the ground.

Lying there I screamed: "You hit people! You hit people!"

The young man replied: "Who's hit you? Who's hit you?"

"You threw me onto the ground. That counts as hitting!"

"Who hit you? You fell!"

I was so livid I couldn't find the right words. "Hah! So you're scared too! What are you scared of? Tell me, what are you scared of?"

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