Cui Weiping (崔卫平): Self-initiated and Idealistic Thinking and Action

On March 28, Chengdu-based environmentalist, writer and former editor of Literati magazine (文化人) magazine Tan Zuoren (谭作人) was detained on allegations of subversion of state power.

Tan’s crime? The following is from a Reuters report:

In town after town in Sichuan province, schools collapsed during the May 12, 2008 earthquake, in some cases as residential buildings around them stayed standing. Over 80,000 people were killed in the earthquake, but the government has never released the number of children who died.

Tan Zuoren wrote a proposal this year, called “5.12 Student Archive”, to ask web users and people who lost their children in the quake to help set up a detailed database of the victims.

He asked volunteers in the project to also compile any evidence of shoddy construction at the schools.

On April 11, Cui Weiping (崔卫平), professor at the Beijing Film Academy, published a post on her Sina blog, entitled “Self-initiated and Idealistic Thinking and Action – dedicated to Mr. Tan Zuoren,” excerpts translated by CDT (thanks to Dimon Liu for the title translation) :

… My thoughts are with Mr. Tan Zuoren in Sichuan. The veteran environmental activist has taken part in public interest events with local citizens many times. For that he has been “repeatedly warned” by relevant departments (Xiao Xuehui’s article has details). After the earthquake, he rushed to the worst-hit areas with friends as soon as possible, to provide relief materials to the refugees and to start investigating the collapsed school buildings and the number of students killed. His essay written 100 days after the tremor had this line – “I’d like to devote my sinful being to you, innocent children taken away by the 5.12 earthquake.” It was such a sincere statement and a willingness to shoulder responsibility. People like him would have been called “righteous men” in ancient China and his act a “righteous act.” But this great “righteous man” was escorted away by police on March 28 and has not returned ever since. “The crime of ‘dianfu’, do you believe it?” Xiao Xuehui asked in her article. Xiao herself is a remarkable woman in Sichuan. It’s so ingenious of her to invent such a new term as “dianfu zui,” a homonym for “the crime of subversion” which actually means “the crime of advance payment.”

I don’t believe it, absolutely not. I don’t believe this father of two would have done anything to harm his compatriots and our society! Anyone can reach this conclusion from reading Tan’s essay written 100 days after the quake. I haven’t met Mr. Tan personally, but just before his detention I saw this life-hardened man in Ai Xiaoming’s latest documentary. In it Tan talked explicitly about the dangers he was facing. He mentioned the arrest of Huang Qi, who ran 64tianwang.com, for his efforts to help parents who lost their children in the quake defend their rights. He also mentioned Teacher Liu Shaokun from Guanghan Middle School, who was arrested by police when he told a group of intellectuals in Chengdu about what happened to teachers at the Beichuan Middle School. And then Tan said: “People say good things won’t happen more than three times. I’d like to be the third person (to be arrested).” The following words, which he said in front of Ai Xiaoming’s camera, make people feel a deep respect for him:

I have had enough mental preparationtan zuoren

In the face of such a catastrophe of the world

If no one would speak out

And everybody behaves like a turtle with its head retracted into the shell

Then I think I’d better not meet people in the next three to five years

I will disappear from this world

I’ll be living in another society

When some time in the future

People have reflected deeply on this incident

And learn how to live as real human beings

Especially how to live as a Chinese

How to live as a Chinese against all odds

How come

So many people died in the Beichuan earthquake

To be sentenced for this

To give away several years of my life

Such a price

I feel, is worth it

Such people are the backbone of our nation, the salt and calcium of our nation, the foundation of the reconstruction of our nation’s morals and the starting point of our nation’s spiritual rebuilding. To incarcerate such people is tantamount to confining the conscience of our nation!

April 9, 2009

我这样说的时候,心里特别想着的是四川谭作人先生。这位多年的环保工作者,曾经不止一次参与过当地公民公益活动,为此受到有关方面的“反复警告”(见肖雪慧文)。地震之后,他与朋友们在第一时间抵达极重灾区,尽力给灾民送去物资,同时展开倒塌的校舍以及学生死亡人数的调查。他的那篇“川震百日祭”有这样的题记——“愿把有罪的我,献给无罪的你——献给5•12大地震罹难的孩子们”,如此恳切如此承担责任,这样的人在中国古代,应该被称为“义人”,他的举动当称为“义举”。但是这位大义人,在3月28日这天,却被警方带走迄今未回。肖雪慧写文章发问道:“‘垫付罪’,你信吗?”肖雪慧本人也是一位四川奇女子,真难为她发明“垫付罪”这样的新词。

我不信,坚决不相信。我不相信这位两个孩子的父亲,会做出伤害自己的同胞、伤害我们社会的任何事情!任何人从这篇情深意切的《川震百日祭:追踪北川的天灾人祸》中,都可以得出自己的结论!我本人没有见过谭作人先生,但是谭先生被捕之前,我正好从艾晓明初剪出来的新纪录片当中,见到了这位一脸沧桑的汉子。他明确谈到自己面临的危险,谈到在他之前,已经有六四天网的黄琦,“为了学生家长的维权,被抓了”;然后是广汉中学的刘绍坤老师,“因为给成都读书会,介绍北川中学的老师,来讲他们的这种情况,也被公安机关抓了。”接着他说,“别人说好事不过三,我就算第三个吧”。他面对艾晓明的镜头所说的这些话,令人肃然起敬:

我做好了足够的思想准备

在这样一个世界大灾难面前

如果没有人出来说话

大家都是缩头乌龟的话

我想 这三年五年

我跟大家不见面好一点

不在这个世上

我在另外一个社会中

等到以后

大家对这个事情有了更深刻的反省

知道做人应该怎么做

特别是做中国人

特别困难地做中国人

怎么这样

北川大地震牺牲的这么多人

为这个事情被判刑

付出生命中几年的时间

这样的代价

我觉得是值得的

这样的人才是我们民族的脊梁,是我们民族的盐和钙质,是我们民族道德重建的基石、社会重建的出发点。将这样的人加以囚禁,等于直接囚禁我们民族的良心!

Read also:

* Professor Ai Xiaoming of Guangzhou based Sat Yat-Sen University just published a long blog post (in Chinese): Tan Zuoren: A Good Man from Sichuan.
* Online interview with Tan Zuoren at Vimeo.com, about the Sichuan earthquake
* “Our Land is Under Seige,” Tan Zuoren, Human Rights in China, 2006