Minitrue: Scrub Story on Shuttered Libraries

Minitrue: Scrub Story on Shuttered Libraries

The following instructions, issued to the media by government authorities, have been leaked and distributed online. The name of the issuing body has been omitted to protect the source.

All websites are to delete the article “22 Village Libraries Built by Peking University Graduate Continue to Be Forced to Stop Operations.” The media absolutely must not report on the closing of libraries. (September 18, 2014)

全网查删《北大毕业生建设22座乡村图书馆陆续被叫停》一文。媒体对于立人图书馆被关闭一事一律不做报道。 [Original Text]

The non-profit China Rural Library (CRL) will suspend operation of its 11 village libraries, located across China to serve children and educators. (The article headline appears to misrepresent the number of schools.) One library in Xiaojia, Chongqing was shut down in May, and another five suspended operation last month. From the South China Morning Post:

CRL’s management did not explain the reasons behind the shutdowns, but in a hint that it was forced said “none of its libraries are voluntarily closed for mismanagement reasons”, according to its Weibo.

CRL’s account on e-commerce site Taobao.com, in which people were able to purchase books and donate to the libraries, were also suspended.

Separately, Tang Shuangfei, manager of the Lu Zuofu centre, said in a lengthy post that the Xiaojia library was accused by local authorities of “circulating religious books” and that among those officials confiscated during an inspection was a book on Christianity written by German political economist Max Weber. [Source]

CRL has issued a statement [Chinese] citing intense pressure since 2011 to shutter libraries in Xi’an, Chongqing, Hubei, and  Shanxi:

Today, September 18, 2014, after deliberation with the board of directors, we have decided that from this day forth, CRL will cease operation.

We know this is a weighty, difficult decision, and for many a painful decision. CRL doesn’t just belong to a few people, but has brought together countless friends, donators, and volunteers, all laboring for years and placing their hopes in this public service.

On this special day, we issue three public statements whereby we hope to explain why we have proactively dismantled CRL, as well as to protest and condemn the authorities responsible for years of harassment and forced closure of libraries, illegal confiscation of books, and threatening and even repatriating staff and volunteers.

First, the immense, sustained pressure exerted on CRL is unjust. The concerned authorities who pressured CRL have violated national law and natural conscience, and have done great harm to the project of transforming society.

[…] Second, under this enormous weight, the social foundation for CRL’s village libraries does not exist, and CRL does not have room to run the organization, educate and explore, or raise funds. It is better to say goodbye than to carry on so pitifully.

[…] Third, helping others is one of the key issues in China’s transformation. After the death of CRL [whose Chinese name is literally “Helping Others Library”], perhaps another group of people will revive it in the future. If the experience CRL has accumulated is of use to society, then after one library dies, hundreds of thousands of libraries will spring up.

今天,2014年9月18日,经过立人乡村图书馆理事会的讨论,我们决定:自今日起,立人乡村图书馆停止运营。

我们知道,这是一个沉重而艰难的决定,也是一个让很多人伤心的决定,因为立人并非三五人之私人产业,而是凝聚了无数立人之友、捐款者、捐书人、长短期志愿者多年心血,寄托了很多人热切希望的公共事业。

在这个特别的日子里,我们发布三点公开的声明,希望藉此说明为什么我们要主动将立人图书馆解散,也藉此向数年来逼迫立人图书馆,关停分馆,非法扣留图书,威胁甚至遣返员工志愿者的有关当局发出我们的抗议和谴责。

第一,立人图书馆所承受的长期而巨大的压力是不公义的,当局对立人的打压是违背国法天理良心的,是对转型社会的巨大伤害。

[……]第二,面临如此强势与高压,立人图书馆在乡村运营的社会基础已不复存在,立人在机构运营、教育探索、筹款等方面已经没有发挥空间,与其平庸苟活,不如就此告别。

[……]第三,“立人”是中国转型的核心命题之一,立人图书馆在今日死去,或将在未来某一个时间,由另一群人将其复活。立人所积累的经验如果对社会重建是有用的,一个立人图书馆死去,千百个立人图书馆将出现。 [Source]

CRL’s statement and the deleted eastday.com article on the library closures can be read in full at CDT Chinese.

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