We have learned that our fellow scholars Xu Youyu, Hao Jian, and Hu Shigen, and civil rights lawyer Pu Zhiqiang and writer Liu Di, were criminally detained for “creating a disturbance in a public place, causing serious disorder”. The alleged reason for their detention was that on 3 May they were among the fifteen participants in a “ 2014 Workshop on Beijing’s June Fourth” that took place in a private apartment in Beijing.
These detentions raise many disturbing questions. For example, how can a private meeting “create disturbance in a public place”? These citizens were detained because they discussed an event that took place twenty-five years ago and that had a profound impact on the course of Chinese history. How can a discussion among scholars, lawyers and writers at someone’s home be considered a “disturbance”? As you have often reminded your Japanese counterparts, to be strong, a nation must confront its past. As scholars who have devoted our lives to the study of China, we are convinced that this country will only benefit from a free exchange of ideas that helps to establish historical truth.
Three days after these citizens’ detention, we learned that veteran journalist Gao Yu was criminally detained for “leaking State secrets.” She has admitted to having sent a Party document abroad. But, since the end of the Cultural Revolution, the separation of the state and the Party in China has been a fundamental principle. How, then, can a “Party document” be considered a “state” secret ?
It is obvious that none of the above-mentioned citizens has committed a criminal offense. Their detention is an injustice to loyal Chinese citizens as well as a harm to the image of China at a time when it is becoming a great power. We therefore ask you respectfully to correct this mistake, and to free unconditionally the citizens who have been wrongfully detained.
Senior Research Fellow at CNRS Paris, CEFC Hong Kong
Professor, City University, Hong Kong
Professor, EHESS, Paris
Professor, Baptist University, Hong Kong
University of Montana
University of California, Riverside
Professor, Columbia University, New York