Zhang Lin could tolerate serving house arrest for promoting democracy in China – after all, it was the fourth time he’d run afoul of the country’s repressive policies, and he’d spent over a decade in prison for his activism.
But when four policemen manhandled his 10-year-old daughter out of school, interrogated her and held her without food and water for 20 hours – becoming known worldwide as “China’s youngest political prisoner” – Dad was not about to abandon his little girl to the brutality of the Chinese police.
“I cannot submit to humiliation when my 10-year-old daughter was involved,” the activist reportedly testified earlier this week.
According to Amnesty International, a group of over 30 activists gathered in April to protest his daughter’s treatment at the hands of police, after which Zhang Lin was confined to house arrest. Then in June, Zhang Lin escaped house arrest and went to Beijing to continue his plea.
At first, it appeared to be a victory. State security police reportedly escorted him back and assured him that his daughter would be allowed to return to school and no other action would be taken against him or his family.
Two months later, however, Zhang Lin was imprisoned, charged with “gathering a crowd to disrupt order in a public place” – essentially a charge that he was the ringleader of the group protest in April – and his daughters were forced to flee the country.
As WND reported, Zhang Lin’s 10-year-old daughter, Zhang Anni, and older sister now live in U.S., in the home of Robert Littlejohn and his wife, Reggie Littlejohn, who is founder of Womens Rights Without Frontiers.
But the girls’ father remains in prison and on Dec. 18, faced trial for coming to his daughter’s defense.
Womens Rights Without Frontiers claims an eyewitness to the trial – whose name is withheld for security reasons – provided the organization with a transcript of Zhang Lin’s final testimony in his own defense.
According to the eyewitness report, Zhang Lin did not look healthy and wept while delivering his testimony, especially the parts about the abuse suffered by his daughter Anni at the hands of governmental authorities.
“My whole life has been devoted to thinking about China’s destiny, and for this end I have suffered much injustice,” Zhang Lin reportedly testified. “I can bear these injustices. But now that I am old, I cannot submit to humiliation when my 10-year-old daughter was involved.”
Reggie Littlejohn back in April said in an online posting that the case highlights the “bold contempt for the Chinese Communist Party’s brutal persecution of the children of dissidents.”
She said at the time that the decision by the state of China to arrest and interrogate young children amounts to “state-sponsored child abuse.”
Zhang Lin’s testimony reportedly continued, “I insist that I will find justice for my daughter, so that this kind of case will gain people’s attention and such heinous conduct will cease. These years we have seen progress in protecting the rights of minors. Why is it that when it comes upon my daughter, the law enforcement agency deliberately avoided [protecting these rights]?”
The final words of his testimony contained a biting indictment of his nation’s “progress” in human rights: “The level of civilization of a society is not built on the self-deceptive propaganda, but rather, is determined by whether to make a choice according to their conscience and sense of justice when faced with problems in people’s daily life and work. I am expecting the court to make a correct judgment that will stand the test of history.”
Zhang Lin’s daughters are now working to intervene for their father, the way their father tried to intervene for them. They are taking their arguments to the highest officials, releasing an open letter to U.S. President Barack Obama, Chinese President Xi Jinping, the U.S. Congress and others.
“We call on and urge United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, U.S. President Barack Obama, President Xi Jinping and other heads of state, parliaments and human rights organizations to pay attention to this blatant human rights abuse,” they write. “Your attention could cause our father to be released!”
They explain that after Anni was detained by “four male strangers,” their father demanded justice. Instead, he and other relatives, including uncles Yao Cheng, Li Huaping and Zhou Weilin, all were detained.
“We are living a free life in Reggie’s home in the United States, but our father and our uncles still cannot see the light of the day from their Chinese prison,” they write.
The sisters explain their father’s previous jail terms all have been for his decision to follow “the path of democracy.”
“Because of the long-term imprisonment and the abuses he had in prison, our father has suffered many diseases, from which he has not been cured. Because of this adherence to the path of democracy, our father dedicated almost his entire life, but finally he still got mired in imprisonment, and his children have been forced out of their home country,” they said.
“Therefore, we make our appeal: We ask people from all over the world to pay attention to Zhang Lin, Yao Cheng, Zhou Weilin, Li Huaping and Chai Baowen, and many other imprisoned Chinese political prisoners, and urge the Chinese government to unconditionally release them as soon as possible!
“Finally, as two girls in exile in a foreign land, for our father and uncles in prison, we cry out to you again: Please focus on them! Please use your influence, because your attention can make them free!”
Amnesty International lists online the addresses of officials to whom the public can send their concerns.