The case of a Chinese Internet user that was detained by security forces for mocking the communist regime appears to have intensified recently, with his wife now isolating herself in an effort to placate the authorities.
“The family have cut off contact with the world,” wrote an Internet user who knows the family on the afternoon of Nov. 22 local time. The writer continued that local public security forces previously told the wife that the matter was out of their hands.
Liu Yuanping, a lawyer, told Voice of America on Nov. 22 that the wife had changed her phone number to avoid being contacted.
The wife’s husband, Zhai Xiaobing, or @stariver as he called himself online, was disappeared on Nov. 6 after he made a post joking that the 18th National Congress of the ruling Chinese Communist Party would result in mass death of Party officials, following the plot of a popular supernatural horror film franchise Final Destination.
After Zhai, a financial worker, was taken away, his wife began casting about for support online and off, and was put under immense mental pressure by national security officers, according to Chinese netizens that have contact with her.
The wife, for example, was denied a formal copy of the note of detention of Zhai–she was merely shown a copy. She had her cell phone confiscated and was made to turn over her Internet contacts, and told that if she used the Internet she would be considered an accomplice. She was threatened with a variety of grim outcomes for her husband, ranging from continued detention to a jail or labor camp sentence. And according to netizens, she has been able to sleep little, having to maintain her job, look after the couple’s daughter, and deal with the consequences of her husband’s arrest.
The pressure eventually got to her, according to the accounts online.
The wife last message reported to have come from the wife was when she cancelled an appointment with lawyer Li Fangping. On Nov. 22 she sent him a message saying: “Just let the government handle this, please none of you contact me anymore.”
Below are a selection of tweets related to the case.
@zczpza To clarify: @stariver’s family members were not present when he was arrested–at noon on the 7th, according to local residents. That night (Nov. 8th, 2 a.m.), his family members were summoned to the police station to read the detention notice. 1:32 AM – 20 Nov 12
@duyanpili Found stariver’s wife at her company and demanded to know if her online friends had supported her in any “tactics.” They ordered her to turn over her internet contacts and cell phone and told her that if she used the internet or QQ, she would be considered an accomplice. How wretched!
6:07 AM – 19 Nov 12
@zczpza Stariver’s wife has been informed of three possible consequences for stariver: 1) Criminal detention, 2) Detention, 3) Sentence. She was alarmed and blamed herself for putting herself at the mercy of others. I told her not to blame herself, as the wrongdoing lies with the extrajudicial enforcement and lawlessness.
11:33 PM- 19 Nov 12
@HeQinglian The situation that stariver’s wife faces is unavoidable for many political dissenters. She did nothing wrong, so she shouldn’t blame herself. The Domestic security will bully those who are afraid. She may also find that her friends and colleagues suddenly cease communication or become very strange. Some of these people may be afraid, and some do not want to undertake monitoring tasks. She may experience anger, loneliness, sadness, or fear. This is how it is in the animal world.
9:28 AM – 20 Nov 12
@zczpza The stariver twitter case is still going on. In the beginning, his family members blocked their information and hired a lawyer as well as attempted to conduct low-key rescue plans, to no avail. When the information was publicized, the government threatened his family members to block their communication with the outside world if they did not change their ways. I have currently lost communication with his family members.
12:26 AM – 20 Nov 12
@zczpza As I know it, stariver’s wife had been sleepless since the 7th, averaging less than three hours of sleep each night. On top of going to work and teaching, she is on the verge of collapse. She tries not to alarm her daughter, stariver’s angel. I don’t recommend for people to visit them excessively at this time (though I know they all mean well), as she would not know what to do. Those personal friends of stariver’s should give them necessary care.
3:02 AM – 20 Nov 12
@pangjiaoming My experience from reporting on five or six similar cases is that: Those whose family members are honest in communicating with the media are released or receive relatively good results. Those whose family attempts to conceal information or attempt to use so-called “system resources” to mingle with the authorities usually come to terrible ends.
1:10 AM – 20 Nov 12
@lihlii Not only will Domestic Security threaten you, they may also deceive you; one policeman may act as the bad guy, and one will act as the good guy. He may fake consideration or pretend to reveal information to you out of sympathy. Never believe their words, as they intend to harm you. None of the people that work in domestic security are humane. Those who are humane would not be able to stand a day’s of work in this role.
11:39 PM – 19 Nov 12
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