In a brief letter dated July 11, lawyer Xu Lin, a native of the southern China province of Guangzhou, gave his wife a set of highly practical instructions on what to do if he is disappeared by the Communist Party’s secret police.
First, if she doesn’t hear from him for over two hours in a day, she should assume that he’s been arrested. She shouldn’t “panic,” nor bother hiring a lawyer outside the tight knit group of rights defense attorneys of which Xu is a part. If he’s gone for a year, she should also apply for a divorce.
“Please take care, and nurture our child,” Xu wrote. “Make sure he learns the songs I’ve written. That’s all.”
Like Xu, dozens of Chinese lawyers have penned letters recently reflecting on the possibility of their own arrest; some are to loved ones with instructions on what they should do if they’re arrested or disappeared.
The recent outpouring was prompted by the Chinese regime’s recent mass questioning and arrest of attorneys.
That began on July 9 when more than a dozen police showed up at the Beijing home of prominent human rights lawyer Wang Yu before the crack of dawn and dragged her away on July 9. As of July 15, 177 lawyers and activists who largely worked on human rights cases were either arrested or taken in for questioning, according to nonprofit human rights organization Amnesty International. It’s widely been described as by far the most systematic and extensive campaign to date
State-run media has accused the attorneys of running a well-oiled criminal gang with aims to simultaneously make money and cause social upheaval. Chen Pokong, an author and analyst of Chinese politics, said the movement was a “Cultural Revolution-style” suppression, according to Radio Free Asia.
Chinese lawyers have posted poetry and personal letters to family on Chinese social media, and the notes were collected by the Hong Kong-based Chinese Human Rights Lawyers Concern Group.
“Even though I love freedom, love my parents; let me go [with the rest of the lawyers],” wrote Wang Quishi, a lawyer from Beijing, in a poem dated July 12. “My life and fate aren’t in my own hands; if this is my fate, then I’ll take it… If the heavens should rain, let it.”
Wang Shengsheng, a lawyer based in Shenzhen City, Guangdong Province, vowed to “never stop” expressing her “concern and feelings” for those who have been unjustly “arrested, have their personal freedom restricted, or intimidated,” even though it would cause difficulties for her and her unborn child.
“I cannot avoid this, and neither can my child,” she wrote. “We insist on not being slaves and not having our wills violated.”