Sui Muqing | China Change
This article was first published in China Change website on July 5, 2018
Hello everyone. I’m a lawyer Sui Muqing from Guangzhou. I practiced law in Guangzhou from 1998 to 2017. On July 9, 2015, in the early hours of the morning — I happened to still be online — Wang Yu live-broadcasted her arrest.
I was arrested the following night, on July 10.
At 11:00 p.m. the property management people rang my doorbell and said that my car had been hit. I suspected a ruse, so I ignored them.
A little while later they came back and again said that someone had hit my car. The problem now was that the sound of the doorbell was extremely loud. My wife and kid were already asleep. It was really loud, you know? So I had to go down and deal with it. Once I got downstairs, a gang of police surrounded me.
I think it was on July 11 at 8:00 p.m. that they announced I was being held under ‘residential surveillance at a designated place.’ They charged me with ‘inciting subversion of state power.’ They put me in a place not far from my home, in a police training center in Dashi, Panyu District.
During the detention, they questioned about what I’d been doing from the 1989 student movement all the way until now.
They focused on my contact with Guo Feixiong and other activists. For instance, our meal gatherings, salons, and all the human rights cases I had taken. They also questioned my contact with foreign embassies, as well as my trips overseas for conferences. They questioned me on all of it.
After about a month, one day they wouldn’t let me sleep. They didn’t announce this. At the time I didn’t even realize that the torture had begun. You know?
They deprived me of sleep for about five days and five nights.
By the fifth night, I fell apart. I felt that this body of mine, ah. It was done for. I blacked out. I lay down there, and I remember it was a very hot day, the room was still very hot even with the Air Condition on. But oh, I had a thick blanket on me, but I felt freezing cold. At that point, my mind was losing its grip. I thought I was about to die.
On about the 147th or 148th day, on December 2, , they let me go home. But at home, I was still under residential surveillance.
I was under residential surveillance until January 10, 2016. On that day they came and said my case would be ‘pending investigation’ for a year.
The crime I had been held for was ‘inciting subversion of state power.’ It had no basis, simply no basis. Whatever they say goes. You’re guilty of whatever crime they say you are. If they need a basis for their actions, they’ll just make one up and slap it on you. When you’re a lamb in the mouth of the tiger, then you’re guilty of whatever crime they say. If they say you killed someone, then you’re a murderer; if they say you committed arson, well then you’re an arsonist.
People are the same everywhere. Of course one would be terrified. Merely for representing certain cases… it’s like what lawyer Zhang Kai said to me: “We’re just lawyers, but you take on a few cases and all of a sudden, you become Liu Hulan [a Communist martyr]. You face the test of life and death.
But man strives to overcome himself, to conquer fear. How does one beat this dread? Actually, none of us knows how.
All you can do is forge ahead — to overcome the fear through action. Once you’ve committed, there is no use being fearful. Fearful as you are, you forge ahead, like what Aung San Suu Kyi said: While your legs shake with fear, you nonetheless forge forward, and that counts as courage.
Over a period of about four years, I took on around 40 human rights cases.
Maybe the authorities have their statistics. Maybe they didn’t like the way I handled the cases. For example, I posted pictures online, I wrote and published updates on my cases, and I gave interviews to foreign media. The authorities believe that publicizing the cases has a very bad effect.
Though it seems that my disbarment [in early 2018] was sudden, I thought about it later. It was an overall reprisal for all the human rights cases I’ve taken on over the years.
As for the future, I’ve always wanted to leave China and be a visiting scholar abroad. I have long been interested in how the English and American legal systems took root in other countries.
But this wish of mine may be hard to realize. It’s been four years since 2014, and I’ve been banned from leaving China the whole time. They say I’m a threat to national security.
I noticed that some of the lawyers who were disbarred or had their licenses canceled in earlier years have run into financial difficulties. So, I think this is something I first need to resolve.
I think that for my generation, my aspiration in being a human rights lawyer wasn’t as high, grand, and lofty as all that. I really think it’s for our children. We don’t want them to grow up being brainwashed, full of terror, surrounded by corruption, in a country with no rule of law. So, we need to do whatever we can to promote progress in China.
I hope that the international community, and the American and European governments, in particular, will speak out about this. Fundamentally, human rights problems cannot be separated from economic issues. When you deal with a country with no regard for human rights, you cannot guarantee that your economic interests will be protected; you can’t protect the economic interests of your citizens [when dealing with these countries.]