Jailing of Dr. Jiang Yanyong starts to get some media attention

Thanks very much to Tim Bishop for contributing the following post to China Digital News:

I was delighted to see today that the Washington Post is running on its front page a well-written article by Phillip P. Pan on the detention of Dr. Jiang Yanyong, the hero of the 2003 SARS epidemic in China.

The officials have detained Jiang Yanyong, 72, a semi-retired surgeon in the People’s Liberation Army, in a room under 24-hour supervision, and they have threatened to keep him until he "changes his thinking" and "raises his level of understanding" about the Tiananmen crackdown, said one of the sources, who described the classes as "brainwashing sessions." But Jiang, who became a national hero last year after blowing the whistle on the government’s efforts to hide the SARS outbreak, has refused to back down, and said in a recent note to his family that he would continue to "face the problems confronting me with the principle of seeking truth from facts," according to a person close to the family.

The standoff is the culmination of an extraordinary battle of wills that has been quietly unfolding for months between China’s ruling Communist Party and an individual who has already challenged the authorities and forced them to back down once.

China’s state-controlled media have not reported Jiang’s detention, which began June 1. In response to questions submitted by The Washington Post, the government said in a brief statement: "Jiang Yanyong, as a soldier, recently violated the relevant discipline of the military. Based on relevant regulations, the military has been helping and educating him." …

One senior military official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said there was broad support for Jiang even within the party and that it will be increasingly difficult for the leadership to hold him as news of his detention spreads. "I consider him a man of honesty and courage," he said. "Ninety-nine percent of the people
support him."

The security officials have forced Jiang to write daily statements and watch videotapes as part of the indoctrination process, sources familiar with the situation said, and they have scrutinized his datebook and other materials for information to use against him. One source described the process as a milder version of the high-pressure, sometimes violent tactics that Chinese security agents have successfully used to force members of the banned Falun Gong spiritual movement to give up their beliefs.

On June 15, several hours after CNN broadcast a telephone interview with the couple’s daughter, Jiang Rui, and the Associated Press moved an interview with their son, Jiang Qing, the authorities released Hua. She immediately urged both children to stop talking to reporters, saying she had been told that Jiang’s fate would depend in part on their silence, sources close to the family said.

The amount of detailed inside information that Mr. Pan has uncovered and published gives me some hope that the Chinese authorities are divided about the wisdom and morality of jailing a man who has already once saved China from the mistakes of her rulers. Like the unnamed military officer, I consider Dr. Jiang a hero and a man of honesty and courage, and I encourage people in the United States to write or call their senators and congresspeople, and to write the Chinese embassy at 2201 Wisconsin Avenue, N.W., Washington D.C. 20007, or to call Minister Counselor Yang Youming at the political affairs division, at (202) 328-2548 and Major General Chen Xiaogong, the Defense Attache at (202) 295-2525, and urge that the Chinese government release Dr. Jiang Yanyong.

Cross-blogged at thebishop.net

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