I Have No Enemies – Liu Xiaobo's Final Testimony

BY *
Dec 15, 2010

This is Liu Xiaobo's final statement during his trial on December 23, 2009. He was sentenced to 11 years in prison for "incitement to the overthrow of the state power and the people’s democratic dictatorship".

On this life journey of mine for which half of a century has passed, June 1989 was the greatest turning point. Before that, I was the first batch of students to have resumed higher examinations after the Cultural Revolution, from the Bachelors' degree to Masters' to PhD, my academic life had been smooth. After graduation I continued at Beijing Shi Fan University, teaching.

On the lectern, I was popular with the students. At the same time, I was also a public intellectual, expressing essays and works that were contentious during the 1980s, and being invited to lecture in various places, including being asked to serve as visiting fellows in the US and Europe. What I demanded of myself: as a person and in my works, to live honestly, responsibly and with dignity. After that, because I returned from the US to attend the events of (and leading up to) 1989, I was jailed for inciting anti-revolutionary propaganda, and lost my beloved lectern, unable to publish essays and speak in the country again.

For holding a different political view and participating in peaceful civic activities, a teacher lost his lectern, a writer his right to express himself, a public intellectual his opportunity to speak publicly; this, whether to me personally or to a China that had opened itself to reforms for 30 years, was a tragedy.

Thinking back, my most dramatic experiences after the Tiananmen Incident were all related to the courts; both times when I spoke to the public were provided by the mid-level court, once in January 1991 and the other now. Though both times I was charged with different crimes, though basically they were the same – for speaking.

20 years have passed, and the ghosts of Tiananmen have yet to be laid to rest, and I who was led onto the path of someone with a differing political view, when I left prison in 1991, I lost the right to openly speak in my own homeland, and can only do so through foreign media. For this, charges were brought against me, I was placed under house arrest (May 1995 – January 1996), re-educated in a labour camp (October 1996 – October 1999) and now, deliberately pushed into the chair of the accused by the governing leadership's mentality of enmity. But I want to tell those who robbed me of my right to political freedom, I maintain what I expressed in the Manifesto of the Hunger Strike of June 2, 1989 20 years ago – I do not have enemies, neither am I vengeful.

All the policemen who jailed me, arrested me and interrogated me, the prosecutors who charged me, and the judges who tried me, they are not my enemies. Though I cannot accept your detention, arrest, indictment and verdict, I respect your professions and your characters, and that includes prosecutors Zhang Rongge and Pan Xueqing who are right now representing the prosecution. During the questioning of December 3, I could feel your respect and sincerity.

Vengefulness can eat away at a person's intelligence and conscience, the mentality of enmity will poison a race's spirit, incite a cruel battle to the death for both sides, destroy a society's magnanimity and humanity, and hinder a nation's progress towards freedom and democracy. Hence, I hope that I can rise above what is happening to me personally to regard the country's development and the evolution of the society, and face the hostility of the governing leadership with compassion, and use love to remove the hatred.

As all know, it was open reforms that brought about the country's development and society's changes. To me, open reforms began with the abandonment of the class struggle of the Mao era as a governing philosophy. It turned towards economic development and achieving a harmonious society. The process of giving up the philosophy of class struggle also diluted this mentality of enmity, eliminating the psychology of hatred, and it was a part of ridding the langnai that was creeping into human nature. And it was this which provided open reforms with a liberal environment both in and outside the country, restored inter-personal love, gave those with different interests and values fertile grounds for coexistence. From there it gave the human impetus for the people's movement towards innovation and compassion.

It gave the human impetus for the people's movement towards innovation and compassion.

It can be said that abandoning the anti-imperialistic stances externally and the class struggle domestically, was what allowed China's open reform process to persist till today. The move towards a market economy, multiculturalism, law and order, all benefitted from the dilution of the mentality of enmity. Even in the political realm where the progress was the slowest, this dilution allowed the governing leadership to gradually become more tolerant of the society's multiculturalism, reduce the degree of its repression of those with different political views, and change its definition of the Tiananmen Incident from that of an “uprising” to a “political incident”.

The dilution let the governing leadership gradually accept the universality of human rights; in 1998, the Chinese government made a commitment to the outside world to sign onto the two international human rights conventions of the United Nations, signalling China's recognition of the universality of human rights. In 2004 the Chinese People's Congress made the unprecedented move to write the “national respect and protection of human rights” into law, signifying that human rights had become one of the fundamental principle of China's laws. At the same time, the current leadership also proposed a “basic regard for the individual” and “building a harmonious society”, illustrating the progress of the governing principles of the Communist Party.

These improvements, I can feel them from my own experience of being arrested.

Though I maintain my innocence, in the past year during which I have lost my freedom, I have been through two detention centres, four interrogation officers, three prosecutors, and two judges. Their handling of the case was not disrespectful, they did not exceed the time allotted and they did not force confessions from me. Their attitudes were calm, rational, and sometimes even revealed compassion. On June 23, I was transferred to Beijing Police Station's First Holding Centre, and there, I witnessed the improvement of the guards.

In 1996, I was at the old Holding Centre, and compared to that centre of more than ten years ago, the current centre has made vast improvements in terms of facilities and management, especially in the form of the “humane management method” pioneered by this centre.