'This Is Egregious Political Persecution'

The wife of a Chinese dissident speaks about the 'persecution' of her husband and their family.
2012-02-22
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Li Jing at a Congressional hearing, against the backdrop of a photo of her and her husband, Feb. 14, 2012.
Photo courtesy of ChinaAid.

Li Jing, the wife of Nanjing-based political activist Guo Quan serving a 10-year prison sentence, relates the circumstances under which he was thrown in jail for publicly calling for democracy and human rights and the ordeal the family had to undergo. She fled to the U.S. with her son a month ago:

He is an academic and professor at Nanjing Normal University with a degree in law and a doctorate in philosophy. He started to publicly advocate for greater democracy and human rights in 2007, when he published an open letter to President Hu Jintao calling for “multi-party elections under a comprehensive welfare system."

Several days later, he published another letter, this time to Premier Wen Jiabo, defending the rights of 590,000 employees laid off by China National Petroleum Corporation and China Petroleum Chemical Corporation and arguing for the abolishment of the “re-education through labor” system.

He wrote several other letters defending the rights of workers laid off by the China Industrial and Commercial Bank and regarding demobilized soldiers and the nationalization of the military.

Because of his public advocacy, my husband suffered.

Fired

On Dec. 6, 2007, the Communist Party Committee of Nanjing Normal University fired him from his job as professor. He was transferred to the university library to work in data management. He was stripped of his associate professor salary and allowed to work for only minimum wage.

Of course, these demotions did not stop his advocacy.

On Dec. 17, 2007 my husband posted the “China New Democracy Party Charter” online, announcing the founding of this party, with himself as the temporary chairman.

In less than a year’s time, he published online the “Herald of Democracy,” a collection of 347 articles criticizing one-party dictatorship and corrupt government, defending 10 social groups whose rights had been violated, spreading the ideals of democracy and constitutional government, and systematically promoting his own political views.

On Nov. 13, 2008, Nanjing police detained Guo Quan on the charge of “subversion of state power.” He was formally arrested on Dec. 19, 2008 and sentenced on Aug. 7, 2009 to 10 years in prison, with three years’ deprival of political rights.

Forbidden

I was forbidden by Nanjing police to go to the trial or speak to international media about his case. He is currently serving his prison term at Nanjing’s Pukou prison.

From the first published letter, my family experienced continuous harassment by police. Our lives have been turned upside down for the simple expression of political opinion. Our home was raided several times in the middle of night. They smashed the locks on our door, ransacked our cupboards and chests, and forcibly confiscated our computers and some of my husband’s manuscripts, which were never returned.

In the apartment complex where I live, police installed surveillance devices in the hallway and in the elevator and monitored my home phone, Internet, mail and cell phone. On important public holidays or so-called “sensitive days,” my home phone line and Internet access would be cut off.

My employer told me that the Public Security officers visited him three times and he was asked to monitor my activities. I had no opportunities to be promoted. Later, I had no choice but to become self-employed, but they used various means to disrupt the normal business activities of my company.

Discrimination

My husband’s advocacy also affected the life of our 11-year-old son. Since his father is a well-known political prisoner, he has suffered discrimination at school. He is continually mocked by teachers and students.

Before his father was arrested, he held some leadership positions in his class and in his school, but he has been stripped of these. Previously active and outgoing, he has become more and more withdrawn and lacking in confidence.

My husband is innocent. He is a college professor and a devoted Christian whose conscience led him to advocate peacefully for rights and freedoms that are universal. For this he was given a 10-year prison term. This is egregious political persecution.

His mother is elderly and sick and his son and I miss him greatly. I can’t imagine my son not being able to see his father for another seven years.

Excerpts are based on Li Jing's abridged testimony at a hearing of the U.S. Congressional‐Executive Commission on China, Feb. 14, 2012.

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