“Shame, to insult a woman!” read the hand-lettered sign Zeng Jinyan raised when she faced down Beijing police on June 21 as they threatened to run her down with their car. The wife of AIDS activist Hu Jia, whom police have also targeted, Mrs. Zeng was fed up.
Police had been following her closely all day, had blocked in her car, and now were repeatedly pushing against her with their vehicle. Mrs. Zeng stood her ground. She publicized her experiences on her blog, but it was blocked in China.
Her husband, Hu Jia, who had been subjected to house arrest, detention, and constant monitoring for his human rights activities, said: “Jinyan is very brave. She had no choice but to do that [raise a protest sign]. I was very angry as [their] action was very dangerous, so I rushed to where Jinyan was standing to stop them and move her away from the car.”
Zeng Jinyan's Blog Diary
First, I declare that what happened today was my personal instinctive resistance to this unreasonable harassment.
When I left home for work this morning, I left it to chance that they [the police] might be gone and give up following me, allowing me time to relax. But this hope vanished when I went downstairs. The plainclothes policeman car was facing the front entrance of our yard.
When I drove out, two cars … followed me. There was a traffic jam near the north turnabout of Tiananmen. I got out and walked to the car following me closely to see if the vehicle's license plate indicated the same car as yesterday. Those in the car appeared nervous and pulled down a sun shade to prevent me from seeing their faces.
After an early lunch, I took my backpack and came down from my office. The police did not expect me to come down so early, so they hid themselves in a panic when I walked to the front of their car.
In the afternoon, I made a sign with the message “Shame, to insult a woman.” If the police continue to follow me, I will certainly resist.
The police continued to follow me, but I had no alternative. In the afternoon, I had an appointment with my friend. After dinner we walked out from the restaurant and I saw their car parked at the entrance. I took out the sign and stood in front of the car without saying a word and let them see the words on the sign.
The driver started the car and slowly pushed me with it again and again. I was a little unstable, but I had no fear and continued to stand silently. I wanted them to know what I was thinking—shame on you for insulting a woman!
I thought all this surveillance was unreasonable. Should I call the police? Will it make them keep a distance from me? No one can solve this problem except me. My husband helped me and took a photo as I felt this was very unjust. I didn't know if there was a better way to chase away these people, who are like flies after a piece of meat.
A Tense Situation
According to Hu Jia's description, when his wife held her protest sign in front of the car that was following her, the police hesitated for about 20 seconds before starting the car and repeatedly pushing her with it. Hu Jia said, “What took place really made me angry. The action was very dangerous. Jinyan is a petite woman, but a group of policemen used the bumper of their car to push her and could have hurt her with even a slight increase in speed.”
Hu Jia, who was taking photos nearby, rushed to the front of the vehicle to protect his wife, but the car didn't stop moving forward. The whole incident lasted more than two minutes. Afterwards, she held onto her husband as the car detoured to the left and parked over ten meters away.
At that time, Hu Jia and his wife were with their friends. They had never seen anything like this and were too shocked to speak. After it ended, one of them, a lady, was speechless and could only hug Jinyan.
Mrs. Zeng Decides to Take the Risk
Before the incident, Zeng Jinyan had emailed a letter to her husband. She asked him to make public the contents of the letter if she met with an accident.
According to her husband, Zeng Jinyan wrote that she loves life fervently and would not choose suicide. If she met with any accident, it would definitely not be because of her own intent.
Hu Jia said that his wife was forced to take bold action in confronting the police because of their continual harassment.
“Previously, the greatest restraint for me was not the police or [fear of] detention but the dissuasion of my wife and her parents,” Hu said. “At that time, she always told me that it was a great achievement for me to conduct my AIDS efforts well and she hoped that I would not go overboard in this. In fact, this dissuasion was what stopped me from taking more action against the police.
“Many things happened to me everyday, especially the incident when I was abducted and detained for 41 days in the beginning of this year. These incidents forced Jinyan to face and handle many things on her own. In the process of saving me, Jinyan was forced to use all possible means.
“Up to today, the actions she had taken were actually what I would have done before, but was dissuaded by her. That is, to directly express anger at injustice. Tell those spies that what they are doing is wrong! Directly express our refusal to submit to them! I felt Jinyan was really brave.”