What to Tell Daughter? Activist’s Wife Asks Communist Party Leader

By Carol Wickenkamp
Carol Wickenkamp
Carol Wickenkamp
August 20, 2013 Updated: August 21, 2013

“Mr. Xi Jinping, you too have a daughter. Tell me, in a situation like this, how should I console my daughter? “ the broken hearted wife of a Chinese activist asks the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) leader. 

In an open letter translated into English by China Media Project, Zhang Qing, the wife of activist Guo Feixiong, who was locked up earlier this month, expresses shock and anger at his arrest for “disturbing public order,” and calls on the international community to come to his assistance, according to the BBC. 

Guo has been prominent in advocating disclosure of officials’ assets and ratification of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and is one of several activist who have been rounded up by the authorities recently. He was detained on Aug. 8 but his family did not receive notice until Aug. 17.

Shocked and angry, Zhang blamed Xi for having her husband arrested on an “unwarranted charge” of “disturbing the public order.” 

“I want to let you know, to let the world know, what hardships and cruelties Guo Feixiong — this Chinese prisoner of conscience — has suffered over the past ten years, and what pain and sadness we, his wife and his children, have endured as a result of his persecution,” his wife writes to the Party leader. 

He has been illegally detained four times since his involvement with rights defense work began in 2003, his wife says in her letter. “Illegal beatings and brutal torture have for him become common fare,” she writes. 

She inventories the abuse and torture her husband was subjected to while in Guangzhou Number One Prison: deprived of sleep and interrogated for 13 days and nights, locked in leg-irons for over 100 days, restrained on a wooden bed in leg-irons and handcuffs for 42 days, among other abuses.

When he was transferred to Shenyang, his jailors put a black bag over his head, like that worn by death-row inmates, before he was taken to a secret location and violently beaten, she said. While at that location, he was forced to sit on a “tiger bench” [a kind of torture device favored by jailers] for four hours. Here he also was strung up with his hands behind his back, forcing him to bear the full weight of his body with his shoulders. Police used a taser on his genitals. His jailers locked Guo up with death-row inmates, who threatened to carve out his eyes, and he broke through a window to escape them.

“They don’t just use prison, inflicting torture on adults — they make things impossible for children, thinking nothing of destroying a child’s future,” she wrote, detailing the intimidation of their daughter, going on to explain how the CCP prevented the child from attending school in China, and how she herself lost her job. 

“This is the main reason we moved to the United States [in 2009] with the help of friends”, she wrote.

“Mr. Xi Jinping, this open letter I’m writing today is the ninth open letter I’ve written to the senior leaders of our country. All of the letters before were just stones dropped into the sea. Will this letter be any different? I don’t dare hope,” Zhang wrote. “But regardless of the result, I will not give up striving. I want to use this letter to let the whole world know my inner feelings, to pray for the peace of my husband.” 

Guo spent five years in prison after a late 2006 arrest. Prior to that he had worked with prominent human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng, arrested in 2006, who represented Falun Gong practitioners and openly criticized the Communist Party for its repression of Falun Gong and other groups. 

After his arrest, Guo provided legal assistance to Gao Zhisheng after the latter was arrested. Guo was then himself arrested following the publication of a book revealing corruption in Liaoning Province.  

Carol Wickenkamp
Carol Wickenkamp