FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 26, 2006
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Courage Acceptance Speech -- Gao Yu
Thank you to the Independent Chinese PEN Center for nominating me, to Mr. Li Pu, He Jiadong and Jin Zhong for their recommendations.
And thank you to the International Women's Media Foundation for giving me this award and the opportunity to meet other colleagues whom I deeply admire.
In 1995, when I received the Courage Award for the first time, I was being held in one of Beijing's most remote prisons after having been arrested for the second time.
I wrote to China's then minister of justice, asking him to forward my letter of appreciation to the International Women's Media Foundation. The letter was torn to pieces by the prison police.
The IWMF then invited my husband to receive the award in my place. This panicked the authorities. The Beijing Security Bureau told my husband that if he would turn down the invitation, they would take me to the hospital and release me from prison early.
My husband took their offer, but it turned out to be a scam.
My first arrest was on the morning of June 3, 1989, when I was abducted by the Beijing Security Bureau on my way to work. I was held under house arrest and didn't hear the gunfire in Tiananmen Square that evening.
A few days later, my report on the surging democratic movement was published in one of Hong Kong's most influential magazines.
As a journalist, I became a hostage card that the Chinese authorities played to show their tough stand to the West.
I was arrested again in 1993. My arrest warrant showed only my name and the date of my arrest. There was no notation about which laws I had broken -- because my arrest was based on no law.
Thirteen months later, I was sentenced by the Beijing Intermediate People's Court to a six-year jail term and "deprivation of political rights: for one year for the crime of "leaking state secrets."
Chinese journalists have shared outstanding traditions ever since the modern media was first set up in China in the nineteenth century.
However, when the Communists came to power, they destroyed all privately run newspapers and used political violence to deprive the Chinese press of its independent spirit.
Chinese authorities require that the past be forgotten and the present be whitewashed. Reporters who dare to tell the truth are fired -- or worse.
Today, I would like to recall the words of Shi Liangcai, a Chinese newspaper reporter and pioneer of the independent media who was murdered by secret agents from the Kuomingtang government in 1934. "You have a gun. I have a pen," he said.
History has given me the choice of a pen.