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China: Zeng Jinyan asks for harassment to stop

Categories: China, Law

Zeng Jinyan [1] wrote last week [2] on her Twitter account [3] that the heavy surveillance she and her daughter are under has been stepped up in recent days [4] and now includes regular physical harassment.

Zeng appears to continue to have some sort of internet access, but judging from a letter posted to her blog yesterday, this move by authorities comes as a sharp reversal to a prior slight relaxation of the conditions of her ongoing house arrest:

Dear Mr. Policemen,

The dozen or so of you are stationed in the courtyard [5]. Your bikes parked, you wait for orders, through the blowing wind that chills you in winter, the bugs that bite you during the hot summer, and not a day off in the meantime. Aside from stopping people from visiting me, you even often block me from going out, or trail me when I go shopping, or take my baby to the hospital for shots, and it can be quite trying.

My husband Hu Jia is now being held in Chaobai prison [6], and his freedom of movement and various other rights have been completely restricted. And I, left to raise our half-a-year-old daughter on my own, am barely left with enough time to look after myself; eating and sleeping regularly aren't even guaranteed now. Recently, my child has been becoming a little naughty, and I can't keep on my own, so I've hired an older woman to come in for a few hours each day to help out. You didn't just completely investigate her background and that of her family, you even keep blocking her from entering my home, going as far as to threatening to see that she loses the job. The first thing you did after I hired her was run to her home to check her out, making her neighbors believe she'd been stealing or something, creating for her a lot of psychological stress. Even to this day, you treat just as horribly, putting pressure on her. But in bullying women and children around, you're also an embarrassment to police.

I take my child around the neighborhood for a walk, and you tail us closely, even sending female undercover police to monitor us. Smoking, playing cards and making noise, constantly keeping your car engines running, all the neighbors complain. Even when neighbors just bring their children to my home to play with mine, you follow and harass them, too.

Since the beginning of the Chinese new year, there's been the snowstorm, the earthquake, rainstorms, one after the other, and all walks of society have joined together to work towards the relief efforts and reconstruction, volunteering manpower and goods. Instead of doing things every day to disturb us here in Bobo Freedom City, why don't you hurry to the front line of the disaster zone, and do some police work that's not so shameful for a change. Go home and see your wives and mothers, something to feel proud for.

Until this, things were tough enough for me as they were, and each day that went by was just one less thing to worry about. And now, you're relentless. Today I went down into the courtyard to see the nanny off, and yet again I was blocked. Both tired and angry, I yelled at you, called you shameless for big men to be pushing women around. I thought about this when I got home, and I really regret that. One, because I shouldn't get angry in front of my kid; and two, one should be reasonable whenever it's possible to do so, and even when it's not. I shouldn't be calling people names.

Now, I'm writing this letter to seriously make my demands:

1. Stop harassing my neighbors and hired help;

2. Stop tailing and harassing me and my kid, let my kid live a normal person's life;

3. Stop blocking my friends and family from coming to visit.

Building a rule of law society requires everyone to make some effort. Even if ruling of law proves dysfunctional, it still needs to be humane, humanistic, respecting the most basic human rights.

Under house arrest in Beijing's BOBO Freedom City,

Zeng Jinyan
May 30, 2008

Following his arrest [7] last week, political blogger Guo Quan was released on May 28 and was quick to keep writing. In part 224 of his Democracy Sounding essays [8], published yesterday, he shares the story and lyrics to two songs written by his street musician friend Huang Wei, himself detained briefly in the coastal city of Wenzhou [9] for raising a sign with the words ‘Human Rights’ on it as the Olympic torch passed through his hometown.