Chinese Activists Send Cards to Political Prisoners at New Year

china-shanghai-petitioners-cards-feb9-2016.jpg Shanghai activists mail postcards with New Year's greetings to China's prisoners of conscience, Feb. 9, 2015.
Photo courtesy of an activist

A group of rights activists in Shanghai have launched a nationwide campaign to send New Year's greetings cards and postcards to some 200 prisoners of conscience currently jailed by the ruling Chinese Communist Party.

Activists have sent around 1,000 cards to people jailed for their rights advocacy work, Shanghai petitioner Qiu Bei told RFA on Wednesday.

"We will send a card out to every prisoner of conscience who we can locate to a specific address," Qiu said, adding that the whereabouts of some activists remain unknown.

"For example, Fan Mugen [an evictee jailed after fighting off a demolition team that burst into his home] has no definite address right now that we could send it to," Qiu said. "He is definitely in prison, but we only have the name of the detention center where he was held [pre-trial]."

"We have sent out almost 1,000 cards this year," the petitioner said.

Qiu also said Xinjiang-based rights activist Zhang Haitao, recently jailed for 19 years after criticizing Beijing's policies in the troubled northwestern region, was among the recipients.

"His wife and kid have no income now, so we will send cards to them, signed by a lot of people to express our protest," Qiu added.

Other recipients, who number 198 so far, include Nobel peace laureate Liu Xiaobo, Uyghur scholar Ilham Tohti, rights lawyer Bao Longjun from Beijing's Fengui law firm, Guizhou rights activists Chen Xi and Chen Wei, Sichuan activist Chen Yunfei and Tibetan environmentalist Karma Samdrup.

Qiu, along with around 20 fellow petitioners and rights campaigners, including Han Sufang, Liu Guofang and Qin Rongmei staged a public protest in Shanghai's People's Park on Tuesday, holding up a banner which read "Release all prisoners of conscience immediately!"

Shanghai activists hold up a banner in the city's People's Park, calling for the immediate release of all political prisoners, Feb. 9, 2016.
Shanghai activists hold up a banner in the city's People's Park, calling for the immediate release of all political prisoners, Feb. 9, 2016.
Photo courtesy of an activist
Innocent of any crime

Han Sufang told RFA that all the political prisoners are innocent of any crime.

"I signed all of the cards, because they aren't guilty of anything," Han said. "They are all good people who tried to stand up for people's rights, and they were locked up because of it, and sentenced to jail."

"There is no rule of law here; they detain all the good people and leave the bad ones alone," she said. "After they took away our home, we started petitioning, but they detained us illegally for several hours, with no documentation."

Fellow activist Liu Guofang said her family had suffered a similar fate, petitioning for years over a forced eviction.

"They have changed leaders since then, but they're still careful to protect their share; they just treat us ordinary folk like footballs to be kicked around," Liu said.

"The leaders are all as bad as each other; they are only out for themselves, not to serve the people," she said.

"They say they are going after corrupt officials, but when they get them, they never give us our money back."

Reported by Qiao Long for RFA's Mandarin Service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.

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