A Hong Kong-based lawyers' group on Wednesday launched a postcard campaign for jailed human rights lawyer Pu Zhiqiang, as people across China welcomed in the Year of the Goat, which begins on Thursday.
The China Human Rights Lawyers Concern Group called on well-wishers to print out and mail the postcards to Pu, one of a number of prominent lawyers currently behind bars in China, via its Facebook page on Wednesday.
As many Chinese are reunited with extended family to enjoy the traditional New Year's Eve meal on Wednesday, the postcard, addressed to "Attorney Pu Zhiqiang, Beijing No. 1 Detention Center," wishes Pu a Happy New Year.
"You can break stones, but you can't take away their hardness; you can grind red ink, but you can't take away its redness," the postcard said.
Pu, 49, is being charged with "incitement to subvert state power," "incitement to separatism," "picking quarrels and stirring up trouble," and "illegally obtaining citizens' information."
But authorities have obstructed meetings with his lawyers, who have accused them of deliberately delaying Pu's case to stretch out his detention.
China's embattled legal profession ended 2014 with at least seven prominent rights attorneys behind bars, in one of its worst years since its resurgence in the 1980s, rights groups said.
Those jailed include Ding Jiaxi, Pu Zhiqiang, Qu Zhenhong, Tang Jingling, Xia Lin, and Xu Zhiyong, rights activists said.
Jiangsu-based teacher Yao Baohua, 77, was detained last May and has been repeatedly refused requests for medical parole, in spite of failing health, his daughter told RFA.
Yao Xin said prison authorities have also denied permission for a visit from Yao's family over Chinese New Year.
"Of course that's what I'd like, but they said there are no rules allowing it, so we can't," Yao Xin said.
"Even a healthy person starts to get sick once they are in jail," she said. "But I plan to visit him on Day 6 of the new year. He still seems pretty optimistic that his case will be overturned."
Meanwhile, in the southern province of Guangdong, a lawyer acting for detained women's rights activist Su Changlan said the authorities had detained her husband Chen Dequan and brother Su Shangwei on suspicion of "picking quarrels and stirring up trouble" on Friday.
"There's no one left at home now to take care of their son, who is in senior high school, so Su Shangwei's wife will have to do it," lawyer Liu Xiaoyuan told RFA.
He said Su and Chen were likely detained in their home city of Foshan after they held up placards protesting Su Changlan's continued detention.
"I was very surprised that they detained family members for having different opinions [about a case]," Liu said. "This case involves so much abuse of official power."
Meanwhile, New Zealand journalist and documentary filmmaker Nick Wang said he had finally been allowed back into China to visit his aging mother after being refused an entry visa more than 20 times, he told RFA on Wednesday from his parental home in the Inner Mongolian capital Hohhot.
"As soon as I got back home to Hohhot, my mother asked who I was," Wang said. "She has basically lost her vision...and she asked, "Is it really [my son]?"
"I went over there, and she held me and started crying like a baby, asking me how I got here, and whether I snuck in over the border, so I showed her my visa," Wang said.
Reported by Qiao Long for RFA's Mandarin Service, and by Wen Yuqing for the Cantonese Service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.