Beijing poet and political activist Wang Zang, who was detained in 2014 for posting a performance art selfie in support of Hong Kong's pro-democracy movement, says his wife has developed severe mental health problems following serial attempts to evict his young family from their home.
Wang, who last spoke out about camping with his family in their rented home in Beijing's Songzhuang artists' village after the authorities cut off the electricity and internet connection for nine days, said his family has been evicted nine times in recent months.
But in recent days, his wife, Wang Liqin, 33, began showing signs of mental collapse.
"We have been constantly evicted lately," Wang told RFA on Wednesday. "Since March 19, my wife has been acting strangely, and she has become unwell, constantly muttering in her own dialect for four days straight."
"Today, she went out on the street and paid no heed to the traffic, just walking out into the middle of it," he said. "She was nearly hit."
"I had to run out there with the baby in my arms and drag her back inside again," Wang said. "My wife has now lost touch with reality, and she keeps muttering over and over 'mind nobody steals the baby' and 'they are coming to kill us!'."
"She just keeps saying stuff like that. She no longer has any clarity in her thinking, and she keeps talking to herself, just nonsense, jabbering away," he said.
Wang said the three-week period from Feb. 23 had been hardest of all.
"There were people sitting watching us outside our front door, and they would follow me wherever I went, even with the kids, watching and following," he said.
"I think the huge stress of all of our recent evictions left her psychologically traumatized; there were government officials in our house, yelling at us, and scaring the kids so they were crying," Wang said.
"She was really angry about that, and she started trembling uncontrollably when one of them threatened to kill our entire family," he said. "I think that left scars."
Dissidents face hardship
Wang called for help getting psychiatric treatment for his wife.
"I am thinking about possible treatment options for her, and I will have to do some research, before deciding what to do," he said.
Fellow artist and Songzhuang resident Hua Yong told RFA he was shocked and appalled at the effect of official harassment on Wang's wife.
"Dissidents in China have to put up with so much hardship, and so do their families," Hua said. "My father is lying ill in bed, Wang Zang's wife has lost her mental stability..."
"There used to be talk among my friends of manning up, but I don't want to man up any more," he said. "The situation is too cruel."
Hua said he recently came home from an overseas vacation to find his entire studio and apartment had been smashed up in his absence.
Wang has previously used performance art to show support for Hong Kong's 2014 democracy movement, detained Guangzhou rights lawyer Guo Feixiong, and to commemorate the execution of Mao-era dissident Lin Zhao.
Wang has also expressed opinions through his accounts on Twitter and Sina Weibo, the Chinese equivalent, in support of jailed Uyghur scholar Ilham Tohti, self-immolating Tibetans and followers of the banned Falun Gong spiritual movement, which the authorities have designated an "evil cult."
Reported by Ding Wenqi for RFA's Mandarin Service, and by Wong Lok-to for the Cantonese Service. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.