The following censorship 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 China Rural Library 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.
CRL’s statement and the deleted eastday.com article on the library closures can be read in full at CDT Chinese.