29 April 2009

Ran Yunfei: The Shameless, Hidden Facts of the Deng Yonggu Case

(I promise to write about something else eventually, but there's simply too much good stuff out there concerning the three criminal defamation cases that I've been writing about for the past two weeks. The following is my somewhat rough translation of an April 23 blog post by Ran Yunfei 冉云飞 on the subject of Deng Yonggu.)

The shameless, hidden facts of the Deng Yonggu case
Ran Yunfei

With respect to the extent, depth, and number of individuals involved, I'm afraid Chinese corruption today is second to none any time, any place. Corruption spread out over large areas and involving large numbers of people and huge amounts of money is spreading rampantly, all thanks to this political system and government of ours that has no real oversight. At the root of this inability to curb the rampant spread of corruption is a political sphere with no real oversight or healthy competition. In this abnormal political system, it is the fate of the people to be passively governed; if on occasion, they disagree, they can only make formal allegations or petition. The risks involved in making allegations or petitioning are great, basically the same as putting oneself in prison. Time and time again, government officials at all levels punish those individuals who criticize or oppose them. We can only gaze in admiration at the diversity of their methods, the speed with which they arrest people, the efficiency of their punishments. The three recent cases of Wang Shuai, Wu Baoquan, and Deng Yonggu all involve accusations made against local corrupt officials who levied exorbitant taxes and caused all kinds of disaster.

For making a signed accusation of corruption in the reforestation work being done in Gaosheng Township, Deng Yonggu has been falsely accused by the Pengxi County Procuratorate of defamation. Considering the principle under which there should be no crime if no one brings suit, for the public prosecutor to bring suit in this case is, from one perspective, a colossal joke. Even if one's criticisms of the government turned out not to be factual, it should never constitute defamation—this is basic common sense. If the officials who were criticized feel that they were libeled, why shouldn't they bring suit themselves and, at the same time, allow neutral investigators to examine whether what Deng Yonggu alleged is true? By not making the truth public and not discussing the truth of what Deng Yonggu alleged, prosecutors have taken it upon themselves to exonerate and illegally shield these few officials tagged as “scum.” It looks like the Pengxi procuratorate and many other procuratorates are already very good at offering protection to other officials, giving these officials so much love that the officials don't have to bring suit because prosecutors will do it for them. This is truly ridiculous! This kind of clearly illegal behavior, where the procuratorate willfully violates the law, truly epitomizes the wretched state of China's law enforcement bodies.

Deng Yonggu has been making accusations about reforestation work for many years, writing letters to provincial and central disciplinary committees and writing about it publicly on his blog. Not a single government agency at any level has endeavored to investigate his allegations and make their findings public. Rather, in a classic case of local governments and officials with guilty consciences, they deleted his blog on Sina.com in an effort to conceal the truth. Governments and officials shouldn't try to obstruct and censor information that is not in their interests; instead, they should make the facts known publicly in an open, fair, and balanced way so that the public and media can scrutinize them. Lacking the true facts, it is a classic abuse of power for the procuratorate to stick Deng Yonggu with the crime of defamation when they have no standing to bring charges and the aggrieved party has not come forward. Even more important, I believe that punishing the innocent Deng Yonggu with defamation is connected to his revelations that the Pengxi government fraudulently obtained earthquake relief funds after the May 12 earthquake. Misappropriation of earthquake relief funds is something that causes considerable public anger. The local government treated his accusations of official corruption in reforestation work as “defamation” in an effort to shut him up and prevent him from continuing to expose the fraudulent use of earthquake relief funds. This is the true, behind-the-scenes nature of Deng Yonggu's case.

Following the earthquake, I had some interactions with Deng Yonggu here on the 1510 website, where he was known as “Taking the Broad View.” Later, he posted an article accusing Pengxi officials of fraudulently obtaining earthquake relief funds (see link below) and “Villagers from Gaosheng Township, Pengxi County, Unite in Opposition to Local Government's Fraud in Obtaining Earthquake Relief Funds” (see photo linked below) and sought to use my blog to help expose these things. After I posted this information, I was contacted by concerned individuals who expressed hope that I would delete this information and agree not to publish anything on this subject again. I told them there was no way I would delete any blog posts. I have never voluntarily deleted anything from my blog because when I write I focus on the facts, discuss evidence, and put forward the truth. It's an unassailable fact that the information published by Deng Yonggu is absolutely true, as evidenced by the more than one hundred villagers who signed their names and gave their thumbprint as witness to the the government's fraud with respect to earthquake relief funds. How could such a minor forestry bureau employee can get the signatures and thumbprints of so many villagers if the facts weren't true? Corruption in the distribution of and application for earthquake relief funds is definitely not limited just to Pengxi. In many counties where the earthquake damage was relatively minor, false reporting of the need for post-quake reconstruction funds has brought many benefits to local governments and officials and few benefits to the public. They exaggerate the extent of local damage and use the public as a pretense for obtaining relief funds, skimming their share in the process.

Putting Deng Yonggu in prison for exposing false reporting for earthquake relief funds would attract too much attention to the circumstances surrounding Pengxi's earthquake relief funds and increase the pressure on the government there. Therefore, the local government took advantage of the speed, efficient, and cooperative law enforcement agencies and killed two birds with one stone by putting him in prison on a ridiculous “defamation” charge for his accusations on a completely different matter. Please, friends, note that not only Huang Qi and Tan Zuoren have been put behind bars for seeking the truth in the aftermath of the earthquake—there is also Deng Yonggu. I call for the immediate acquittal of Huang Qi, Tan Zuoren, and Deng Yonggu and restoration of their freedom.

Further links [to Chinese items provided in Ran's original article]:

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