Friday, May 7, 2021

‘In This Country, We Can Only Hibernate’: The Story of Li Bifeng

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Jessica Kneipp
Jessica writes about films, and occasionally gets to direct them. Music, photography, art, poetry, reading and travel are pretty good too. She has a love of silent films, they are the closest she will ever get to "time travel."

Li Bifeng, Chinese author, poet, and activist, has been working toward democracy in China for decades, where free speech is not tolerated.

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Poet, author, and activist Li Bifeng. (Image via ChinaForbiddenNews YouTube/Screenshot)

He wrote a report in 1998 about a courageous sit-in of a group of textile workers on a Chinese highway. This report on the workers’ protest, along with his involvement in the Tiananmen Square democracy movement, saw him imprisoned for 5 years. He was on the run for half a year before he was captured by Chinese authorities.

Then, in 2012, the 48-year-old was further imprisoned for “contract fraud,” with no plausible evidence for 12years. In 2013, his sentence was reduced to 10 years.

If you have seen the work of Chinese artist and activist Ai Wei Wei, you may have come across his “Heroes of Our Time”, which is an installation 0f 176 portraits made from Lego of people from around the world who have been imprisoned or exiled because of their beliefs or affiliations, most of whom were still incarcerated at the time the artwork was created. Li Bifeng is one of the portraits.

Poet, Author and activist Li Bifeng. (Image via ChinaForbiddenNews YouTube/Screenshot)
Poet, author, and activist Li Bifeng. (Image via ChinaForbiddenNews YouTube / Screenshot)

Li Bifeng is known to have summed up the state of free speech in China through his poem In this Country, We Can Only Hibernate:

To learn more about Li Bifeng, watch the video below from NTD.TV that came out in 2013, when he was awarded the Hellman-Hammett Grant, which was established for writers around the world who have been victims of political persecution.

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