'Please Take Care of the Kids'

The wife of a Chinese women's rights activist talks about life under surveillance.
2012-03-07
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Yuan Weijing with her baby Chen Kesi in Beijing, July 4, 2007.
Yuan Weijing with her baby Chen Kesi in Beijing, July 4, 2007.
AFP

Chen Guangcheng, 40, a self-taught lawyer who has persistently campaigned for women's rights issues, has been confined to his home since his release at the end of a jail term of four years and three months for “damaging public property and obstructing traffic” handed down by the Linyi municipal court in August 2006. Chen had exposed abuses like forced abortions and sterilizations by local family planning officials under China’s “One Child” population-control policy. He had served the full jail term in spite of repeated requests for medical parole. On his release, he continued to be confined under 24-hour guard at his home along with his wife, Yuan Weijing, and their daughter Chen Kesi. The couple's son, Chen Kerui, is now living with relatives. The following extracts have been compiled from a video smuggled out of house arrest and interviews given to RFA's Mandarin service by Yuan Weijing since 2007:

Under house arrest with Chen

Before, when they put my husband in jail, it was because he had got involved in the whole family planning issue, so they found an excuse and locked my husband in jail for more than four years. Because I was his wife, and therefore implicated, my freedom was also limited. I was allowed to live freely on March 3 [2010], but then I lost my freedom again on Sept. 1 [2010]. To begin with ... they would let us go out and buy food, then later, I had to go in their car to buy food, and after that I would go on my bike and seven or eight of them would follow me, and I was still able to buy food. But now they won't let us out to buy food. They won't let us go out at all. We can't get hold of any daily necessities now at all.

I am afraid that there will come a time of great danger when we are unable to look after Kerui and Kesi. I hope that our friends will be able to look after these two children for us. Thank you. This is something I really worry about.

From smuggled video, Feb. 2010

Visiting Chen in jail

When my son saw his father, he went to sit next to him on the sofa and his father gave him a hug, and he lay there in his father's embrace. They didn't pull them apart at the jail, like they did to him and his mother and to him and me. He didn't recognize him, but at home we have that photo of Chen wearing dark glasses, so I told him 'that's your father.' I only told him that one time. After that, every time he saw a man in sunglasses, he said 'that's my father.' This time he just kept looking at him. He wanted to carry on holding him but then [someone] came over and stopped him ... When we got home, he was really happy, and he said 'I want to go see my dad. I want to sing for him.'

At home without Chen

Our home isn't one of those really well-designed ones. The courtyards all run into each other, so that you can see from one house to the next. But they have put up screens so nobody can see me.

When my mother-in-law asks me to go and buy food I am very worried because I don't know what to buy. Before I would always buy things that Guangcheng liked to eat, but now that he's not at home I don't know what to get. I also can't let her see how sad I am. I just have to get her to say what she would like to eat for the Lunar New Year, then that's what I'll go and buy.

From interviews with RFA's Mandarin service, 2007-2010

Translated by Luisetta Mudie.

CH. 1: MANDARIN | CANTONESE

CH. 2: VIETNAMESE | BURMESE | KOREAN

CH. 3: KHMER | LAO | UYGHUR

CH. 4: TIBETAN

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