Translation: “The Country Has Gone Dark.” Li Huizhi’s Last Words

If you or someone you know is in crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 in the United States or find local resources in the International Suicide Prevention Wiki.

Li Liqun, a liberal political commentator who wrote under the pen name Li Huizhi, and has lived under constant surveillance for nearly four years, took his own life on July 22. Li had asked repeatedly for a medical reprieve after he suffered a stroke in March 2020, but his requests were ignored, according to his suicide note. Radio Free Asia reports:

Li Huizhi, 62, died on July 23 in a hospital in Guangdong’s Huizhou city after being rushed there and placed on a ventilator in an attempt to save him.
His friend Li Xuewen told RFA that the poet had posted a suicide note online before taking his own life.

[…] “This deterioration in his living circumstances made him desperate,” Li Xuewen said. “The stroke had left him disabled, and yet he was still being treated as a stability maintenance target.” [Source]

CDT has been unable to locate any of Li’s poetry online, but a collection of his political writing is archived at Boxun.

CDT’s full-text translation of Li’s suicide note follows:

At the beginning of Hu Jintao and Wen Jiabao’s administration, I published articles online calling for equality and justice, criticizing corruption in all its forms, and pushing for systemic reform… Time and again, I was named among the “hundred great public intellectuals of the nation” and “hundred most influential bloggers in China.” Yet since the new administration took power, and especially with the arrival of the “great Chinese dream,” the vise has been tightening around me. When the 19th Party Congress came in 2017, I suddenly became classified as a “ministerial-level” target of stability maintenance (the “only one” in Huizhou, an “honor” of which I was informed by numerous domestic security officers). And I am “jointly managed” by the cities of Huizhou and Heyuan, as my hukou is in Longchuan County in Heyuan. When I go back to my hometown, I am minded by Longchuan domestic security. Since I rarely make that trip, I am usually minded by Huizhou domestic security (they slacken a bit during important holidays). They monitor my phone, and when I leave the city, or when friends come to Huizhou to visit, domestic security invariably “has a word” with them (friends have been barred from meeting me for meals in Huizhou on multiple occasions).

I had a stroke in March 2020, making me a “grade 2” on the disability scale, and can only walk with a cane. I asked several times to be exempted from surveillance. Domestic security answered by the book: they would bring my request to the higher-ups. As for when I would be granted a reprieve, they did not have the power to make that decision.

On the afternoon of June 19, 2021, I was “paid a visit” at home by Mr. Xu, the [head] political instructor for municipal domestic security, along with Brigade Vice-General, Mr. Tan, and Battalion Political Instructor, Ms. Huang (I suppose this was in preparation for the centennial of the founding of the Party the following week). I asked them once again: I have fallen ill and am still suffering from the after-effects of the stroke. I am not capable of “opposing the Party” anymore. May I be granted a reprieve? Their response was the same as last year!

On the morning of June 29, two days before the centennial, Brigade General Jiang and Vice-General Tan visited me again (clearly because of the upcoming anniversary). General Jiang said he hadn’t seen “Old Li” for a long time … I brought up my “situation” again, but they didn’t answer me directly.

I sign all of my writing with my real name, whether I publish in China or abroad; every article I write is within the scope of what is constitutionally permitted and based on constructive criticism. Nothing I have said is extreme [by any measure]. Why, then, am I a target of “stability maintenance”? … I did not voice a single critical opinion for six months following my stroke, yet I am more watched, not less, on every holiday. Before the centennial this year, Vice-General Tan and Instructor Huang added me on WeChat (previously, only Brigade General Zhou and Instructor Xu had added me). There were the two “sympathy calls” before the anniversary. Then on the morning of July 16, Officer Zhou came yet again to have a “heart-to-heart” …. You can imagine what all of this activity portends.

The sages have warned time and again: “Stopping the mouths of the people is harder than stopping a flood. You may block the water, but if it breaks through, it is sure to claim many lives; so too if you block the people.” And now? Those in power do not sit and listen to the opinions and criticisms of intellectuals, but instead deploy the machinery of the dictatorship and the policy of carrot-and-stick, forcing intellectuals to succumb to reality. No one dares to petition, no one dares to dissent. The country has gone dark, and the temples ring with a chorus of sycophancy …. By “putting power in a cage of regulation,” they have put critics and dissidents in a cage!

What I want is this: I want the leadership to sit down and listen calmly to what dissidents have to say, instead of always sending public security to knock on their doors …. The Great Helmsman said, “Unless in the desert, wherever there is a crowd there will be a left, right, and center; so it will always be.” Since there is a left, right, and center, why must one side always be quashed by the apparatus of the state? Why can’t you see hope in the opinions of the political opposition? The Party has held power for 70 years. [Your] July 1 speech impressed on us a great retreat to your founding creed, that the overarching dictum of “progressing with the times” has turned into “regressing with the times.” You leave no room for hope! Could this be the misfortune of being born a Chinese?

The July 1 festivities are a veritable banquet of materialism, calling to mind Dickens: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times”—anyone who can leave has already gone to imperialist America, or Canada, or Australia, while the rest of us can only “single-mindedly follow the Party” … Yet “the International working class shall be the human race” is undoubtedly historical nihilism! …

There is no hope for the future! It has never been more hopeless! Of course there are some who maintain that “dawn will break”—because they watched “The Eternal Wave” one too many times when they were young ….

If I’ve said it for ten years I’ve said it for 20. What else is there to say? I’ve said it all in vain!

Every day my body is tormented by the aftermath of my stroke, while my spirit is crushed under an unbearable weight. Now I must “wave goodbye with my sleeve / not taking a whiff of cloud.”

Today I “annihilate myself from the Party and the people.” This has nothing to do with law enforcement in Huizhou—I repeat: Since 2017, the domestic security officers in Huizhou City and the Huicheng district have always been civil. They are of fine character, and are simply following orders. They have never treated me poorly. The onus is on their superiors—they are responsible for my death!

I ask my family not to hold a funeral for me. Scatter my ashes in the East River. Do not hold onto them.

Li Huizhi (Li Liqun), July 22, 2021 [Source]

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