Thursday, December 20, 2012

Rule of Law

As Americans, we don't think much about the rule of law. Although our system may sometimes malfunction, the uniformity of our legal system is something we're able to take for granted. In other countries, this isn't always the case.

My longtime friend, Carl Mather, is currently imprisonned in Nanjing.  An Australian national, Carl is an artist and English teacher.  He is married to a Chinese woman, and they have one daughter, pictured above. He and his wife own an export business and some rental properties.  Carl and I worked together on a project at the Oxford Language Academy of Nanjing during the summer of 2006 and helped me learn to navigate China. Joe and I have stayed with the Mathers during subsequent trips to Nanjing.

Some time ago, thugs broke into the Mather home wielding baseball bats demanding that Carl sign over the family assets.  Carl defended himself, his daughter and mother-in-law with a kitchen knife, slashing one on the hand.  The intruders withdrew.  But their connections to the local government were better than Carl's, and the Nanjing authorities charged Carl with assault.

The case dragged on in the Nanjing courts for over a year. About a month ago, Carl was sentenced to a year in prison.  Carl is now interred at the notorious Nanjing Detention Center.  No one but his lawyers may see him; he has developed health problems, and they report that he isn't doing well.

Few people reading this will know Carl, so I hesitate to ask you to bombard the Australian Embassy with emails, though if you do want to reach them, the address is  The mere act of reading this will be extremely helpful to Carl and others like him.  China is in a state of flux, and its officials are sensitive about the degree of corruption in local government and even more sensitive to its exposure in an international venue.

You may contact me for more information at
Happy holidays to all, and let's hope for a world where no one is imprisonned unjustly.


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