Kinesisk journalist takker – trods forbud

Årets modtager af Golden Pen of Freedom, Li Changqing, skulle i dag have været hyldet i Göteborg, men Kina nægtede ham udrejse. Det forhindrer ham dog ikke i at tale til hele verden - og kritisere hjemlandet.

Årets modtager af Golden Pen of Freedom, Li Changqing, skulle i dag have været hyldet i Göteborg, men Kina nægtede ham udrejse. Det forhindrer ham dog ikke i at tale til hele verden – og kritisere hjemlandet.

Som omtalt i sidste uge, så blev der ingen personlig fest for Li Changqing i Göteborg.

Den prestigefyldte Golden Pen of Freedom 2008 fra den internationale avisorganisation World Association of Newspapers (WAN) blev i dag uddelt uden den kinesiske journalists tilstedeværelse.

Li Changquing, der har afsonet en tre år lang dom for at have "fabrikeret og spredt falske oplysninger" om udbruddet af den dødelige denguefeber i Kina – inden myndighederne ønskede det offentliggjort – fik inddraget sit pas. Og senest blev også hans kone og datter – Bao Dinling og Li Sidi – stoppet kort før rejsen ud af Kina.

Men den manglende mulighed for at møde personligt op har dog ikke hindret Li Changqing i at reagere. Tværtimod brugte han anledningen til at tale til hele verden og samtidig sende klare meldinger til hjemlandet.

Herunder dagens tale fra Li Changqing – på engelsk – som i Göteborg blev læst op af Li Jianhong ved prisuddelingen. Læs også: "It was my destiny to become a journalist". Og se i øvrigt også video-indslag fra WAN og prisuddelingen: GÖTEBORG: WAN awards Golden Pen to jailed Chinese journalist in emotional ceremony.


Her Li Changqings tale ved uddelingen af Golden Pen of Freedom:

Only the Truth Can Save Us

Ladies and Gentlemen and press colleagues,

Today’s gathering place must surely be a hall full of honour. It is such a pity that I cannot fly to the beautiful city of Gothenburg to be present at this grand gathering to raise this honour high with my own two hands. However, my heart is with you all. Our dreams transcend time and space to closely embrace.

Last November while she was visiting me at Yong’an Prison in Fujian Province, where I was undergoing reform through labour (laogai), my wife cautiously leaked the vague news that I was to receive an award. Later she confirmed through a special channel that the World Association of Newspapers was to honour me with its 2008 Golden Pen of Freedom. At that time when I was forced to do labour in a workshop, this great news gave me profound encouragement and support. In my misery it allowed me to see that the world had a pair of huge eyes able to see the truth, and that the world had a gentle heart able to hold within its embrace the people suffering for truth, justice and conscience. I am deeply aware that this is not only an honour for me, but an award for all of my colleagues who bravely devote themselves to freedom of expression, especially those in China! When I am joyful, my mood cannot be relaxed. The fact that Chinese journalists have received the Golden Pen of Freedom Award for two years in a row and the fact that it has been made known that China has become the world’s largest jailer of journalists both show that the current situation of free expression in China is receiving more and more attention from world. China is a land that needs to be travelled by voices of conscience and a nation that needs to be saved by the truth!

It was my destiny to be a journalist. I was born in 1965 in a small mountain village in the northern part of Fujian Province, China. When I was 10 years old, my father, a factory worker, died of cancer, leaving behind my mother and 5 boys, and a large debt. After paying my father’s funeral expenses and one year’s wages, the factory had nothing more to do with us. If there had been no help from my mother’s parents and brothers, we would have become beggars or starved to death. Since then, I started to doubt the education I had received. The inconsistency between the happiness it promised and my real life’s situation spurred in me the habit of thinking independently. In 1983, I tested into the Department of Chinese Literature at East China Normal University. During that period, the university had a free academic atmosphere and drew together a lot of China’s cultural elites. That was also a period of an upsurge in idealism. I was like a fish in water and eagerly read large volumes of classics and contemporary works from China and elsewhere, searching for the solutions to the spiritual poison of my own soul and our national destiny. We expressed our thoughts through academic seminars and literary creativity. It was at that university where, through writing poems, I met Shi Tao, the 2007 laureate of WAN’s Golden Pen of Freedom. He was my junior and we were both leading figures of our poetry society. Those were years worthy of remembering the rest of our lives. They planted in our hearts the seeds of a free spirit and independent thinking. We were nurtured not to think like castrated slaves , and we developed a firm conviction to dedicate ourselves to truth and justice. After my graduation from university, it was precisely this conviction that led me to look hard for a job in journalism, to try to use my pen to speak to society. However, soon I was very badly battered. In the wake of “June Fourth” 1989, the magazine I worked for had its publication indefinitely suspended because of being labelled with a serious "tendency to bourgeois liberalization”, and so I lost my job for the first time. However, due to my affection for journalism, three years later, I found a chance to resume my old career and carried on until being thoroughly expelled from the ranks of China’s journalists.

The reason why I have been so talkative recounting my experience and the development of my thinking is simply to show that, in China, being a journalist is full of risks. To be a good journalist, one not only needs wisdom, but even more, moral courage. I admit that, in my more than ten years as a journalist, I committed fraud, because I had no choice but to commit fraud. I was fearful, because I had no choice but to be fearful. I had given up, because I had no choice but to give up. My professional conscience and conduct were always struggling in my mind until more than three years ago when I decided to obey the call from my conscience to be a real journalist.

Since there had been too few books to read in those three plus years in prison, when I wasn’t labouring, I was observing and thinking deeply, like a soldier that must lay down his gun. I saw too many shams, corruption and violence in that entirely closed space. This was a place of despair. How could such a place exist? Why had we previously been utterly ignorant of these evils? How much more truth had been deliberately concealed, including life beyond prison? It is beyond the experience of truly honest people. It is never for us to see or guess the evils that have taken place or that will take place. They truly exist in hibernation beyond our experience, and attack people who are unable to take precaution against them. Hence, souls are twisted one by one, tragedies are played out one act after another, and hostilities propagate endlessly in a vicious circle, damaging the whole social environment. Can this be our predestined fate? Can this be the life we must accept? Why are we silent? How will all of this end? Facing such a miserable picture – real enough to burn your eyes – what should we journalists do? What should intellectuals do?

During the tempestuous struggle in the 1980s, intellectuals in China bravely examined their own destiny, and collectively and consciously pursued the route to freedom and happiness. Soon after “June fourth” 1989, all had quickly gone like smoke and clouds before our eyes. I personally witnessed the sad situation of a group of intellectuals in China or in exile overseas, who perhaps under ideological pressure and the temptation of economic gain, appeared to collectively degenerate. Gradually, the environment that has lost the voices of justice and conscience has become the space in which we live. Basically, because of our timidity, this really is the fate we cannot but choose. Meanwhile, the intellectuals in Russia, Eastern Europe and even in Taiwan, after having gone into prison, courageously assumed the destinies of their nations. Eventually their voices were heard by their compatriots so that their choice became the choice of their compatriots. In remote South Africa, through the arduous efforts of Mandela and Bishop Tutu and other visionaries, all citizens “speak the truth to achieve reconciliation”. Today, these countries and regions have walked out of a darkness, similar to that of the Middle Ages, and onto the road of modern civilization. In 1992, my life had also welcomed a great event when I, extremely weak and dark in my spiritual world, became a Christian due to the compassion of Jesus Christ. He restored my conscience, allowing me to walk in the light. He rectified the relationship between my world and my spirit and with an insight coming from above helped me traverse obstacle after bewildering obstacle for a more penetrating view of the world. Hence, I am convinced that only the truth can save us! Only with the truth can we surpass narrow partisan doctrines and break through ideological barriers. In the universal morality and values of humankind, only the truth can let people see and speak, let the voices of conscience travel the land, let lies and evil hide nowhere, and let people consciously bear responsibility, choose their destiny and build a happy homeland of democracy, freedom, equality and brotherhood.

We are certainly not aliens of our motherland, but undoubtedly children of today’s China, born early from induced labour. Due to our existence, our compatriots are unlikely to lose hope, because voices that transmit the truth remain, and the seeds of social conscience have not died. Our conduct and life experience have made clear to the world that we are the true patriots and the “martyrs” willing to pay the cost for China’s glorious future. Nowadays, China has entered the process of globalisation. The fate of the Chinese people is in line with the fate of the community of humanity. The choice of the Chinese people is related to the blessings of humanity’s future. We can indeed look forward to a democratic, free, equal, and fraternal China! China will inevitably become a modern, civilized country!

Although I have now been thoroughly expelled from the ranks of [China’s] journalists, I am however grateful that destiny arranged it for me to become a journalist, in the defense of whose dignity, honesty and sacred name I paid the price. I have never regretted this. I thank the World Association of Newspapers very much for your persistence and commitment to civilization. Once more you have focussed on China. This inevitably greatly inspires the journalists in China to resume their faith in professional dignity and speed up the process of promoting freedom of the press and freedom of expression.

Finally I would like to introduce my beloved wife BAO Dingling. She is a remarkable wife and mother. On the one hand, when I was arrested, sentenced and imprisoned for three years, she bravely and intelligently communicated with contacts everywhere, searching for opportunities to rescue me and care for me, while tending well to our daughter with the characteristic tenderness and patience of an Asian woman. On the other hand, she had to bravely face lies and slander. Seeking political advantage, a colleague of mine went so far as to publish a libelous article insulting her character and mine. Still, with Jesus Christ in her heart, she has forgiven those who defamed and humiliated her. She is therefore the appropriate person to accept the Golden Pen of Freedom on my behalf. As for our daughter, everybody knows that all of our efforts today are made for our children.

As I write this statement of thanks, there has been a violent earthquake in Sichuan Province, shaking all of China. Tens of thousands of my compatriots are confronted by disaster, so many children, so many young women withering in an instant like flowers. The landscape changed colour and even God must cover his face, unable to bear it. The body of my motherland split open a giant wound. It’s a mother’s wound. Together with my compatriots, I must carefully attend to it. Now, I have only one thing to say: God bless China.

Thank you all.

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