Zhu Xiaoyan is the U.S.-based sister of veteran jailed democracy activist Zhu Yufu, who was handed a seven-year jail term for subversion by a court in the eastern city of Hangzhou after he penned a poem calling on people to vote with their feet. She spoke at a recent event in San Francisco about her brother, who wrote the poem titled "It is Time" during online calls for 'Jasmine' rallies inspired by protests in the Middle East in early 2011.
"It is time, people of China! It is time," the poem read. "The square belongs to us all; our feet are our own."
"It is time to use our feet to go to the square and to make a choice . . . We should use our choices to decide the future of China."
Ever since 1989 [the year of pro-democracy protests on Tiananmen Square] I can remember that our home was always being searched by police, who were always visiting.
My brother has now served three stints in prison, and they even arrested and sentenced his son Zhu Ang at the same time and sentenced him as well.
My brother is a cultivated man. All he wanted was to express some of his opinions on society, but he has suffered persecution at the hands of the Chinese government, not once, not twice, but three times.
His whole family now suffers from psychological problems, including his son and daughter, caused by his treatment [by the authorities].
As their aunt, this is very painful to me.
Every time I went to see my brother, he was always very strong, telling us not to worry about him. He was going to serve his time in this Communist Party jail.
The thing that moved Zhu Yufu the most [during his time in jail] was hearing that there were people overseas who cared about his case, and who wanted to help democracy activists in China.
Every time I would pass on news to him about people overseas trying to help pro-democracy activists in China, he would get very animated . . . [sometimes] he would be moved to tears.
His wife told me that he would think all that time in jail was worth it, just to know that there were people outside China trying to help him.
But the last time I went to see him, he seemed to be in a trance, as if his spirit had been broken. I felt so bad about that, that I decided I would definitely start speaking out on his behalf. Otherwise he might die in that Communist Party jail.
Reported by C.K. for RFA's Mandarin Service. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.