Reluctant activist, Angela Gui

Gui Minhai is a publisher who specialised in books on the private lives of Chinese elite. He was abducted two years ago and jailed, without charges or trial.


Selasa, 07 Nov 2017 10:37 WIB


Ric Wasserman

Angela Gui has been campaigning for her father's release for two years. He has been held in Chinese

Angela Gui has been campaigning for her father's release for two years. He has been held in Chinese custody without trial or charges. (Photo: Ric Wasserman)

Gui Minhai is a publisher who specialised in books on the private lives of Chinese elite. He was abducted two years ago and jailed, without charges or trial.

Since then his daughter, Angela Gui, has tirelesslessy campaigned for his release.

After a fresh turn in the case, Minhai is now out of jail, but still not free. 

Our reporter in Sweden Ric Wasserman, spoke with daughter-turned reluctant activist, Angela Gui.

In October 2015, Gui Minhai was abducted from his holiday home in Thailand. 

The Hong Kong-based bookseller and publisher was thought to be targeted for selling books critical of Chinese elite and government. 

Weeping on China’s state television network, CCTV six months after his abduction, Gui Minhai confessed to being being involved in a hit and run accident that ended in a fatality. 

His daughter, Angela Gui believes the confession was forced. 

23 year old Angela Gui has been fighting for her father to be released from Chinese custody.

At a recent seminar in Sweden she said has has pushed for formal charges and a court hearing.

"By formally challenging the nearly two year long detention of my father, I hope I will be given some answers, or that his treatment will be adjusted to reflect the law,” she said.

Since her father’s imprisonment, Angela Gui’s life has taken an abrupt turn. 

Like her father, she’s a Swedish citizen. She was completing her masters in history at Cambridge, in the UK. That’s been put on hold.

"I’ve been sort of thrust into this very odd situation and into the spotlight.” She continued, "It was sort of involuntary at first, I mean the choice to become an activist was made up of so many little choices that I saw necessary to make at the time.”

After the initial shock of her father’s disappearance sunk in, Angela started to dig for answers.

She quickly realized her father’s abduction was part of something much bigger.

Since President Xi Jingping took power in 2012, a forceful crackdown on media and freedom of speech has seen more and more Communist party critics detained, surveilled and silenced in China. 

Media and the internet have been restricted, and the definition of crimes against the state has broadened.

"Very early on I tried to sort of connect what happened to my dad globally and it isn’t just about my dad. It is about China extending its borders and it is about basically everybody being at risk.”

Minhai published books that delved into the private lives of Chinese elite, and that were considered critical of the government. The books were illegal in mainland China, but not in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong society and politics are supposed to be free from Chinese interference. 

But in recent years, President Xi’s government has disregarded that agreement, ramping up restrictions, and cracking down on political freedoms in Hong Kong.

Journalists, activists and lawyers have been detained. 

Living in the west, Angela says she has been able to push for her father’s release in ways other families can’t.

"There are so many people who are detained in China or imprisoned for things they’ve written, defending human rights. So I’m incredibly lucky and privileged to be in a place where I am able to question the detention of my dad,” she stated. 

"And I’m able to challenge it. I’m under no sort of illusion that that is going to change the world but I do think it’s important that somebody does it.”

After sustained pressure, the Swedish foreign department in Shanghai met with Gui Minhai three times, the last time in January of this year. 

But they got the cold shoulder from Minhai.

"After a few minutes, from what I’ve been told my dad would then have said: 'I do not want to talk to you. I do not wish to have any help from Swedish authorities because I don’t feel Swedish,’” Angela related.

Angela suspects her father was under enormous pressure to stay silent.

Chinese officials released Minhai from detention on October 17th. But when Swedish embassy staff arrived to met Minhai on the morning of his release, they were informed he had left already. 

For over a week, no one knew where he was. 

At long last Angela got a call from her father, who was staying at his mother’s home in Ningbo, China.

But Angela told BBC radio she believes he may be under house arrest there. 

Angela vows to keep up the fight until her father tastes real freedom again. 


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