<![CDATA[Ho Shan | Radio Free Asia
The wife and daughter of jailed anti-corruption activist Ding Jiaxi have fled China since his jailing a year ago on public order charges, vowing to continue to work to “tell the truth about China” to those who think that all seems well.
Ding, 46, a well-known Beijing-based lawyer and campaigner for the New Citizens’ Movement anti-graft coalition, was jailed in April 2014 for “gathering a crowd to disrupt public order” after calling on China’s leaders to declare their assets and those of their families.
His jailing followed that of movement leader Xu Zhiyong, one of China’s most prominent dissidents, who was sentenced to four years in prison on public order charges three months earlier.
Ding’s wife and daughter recently fled China to avoid official persecution, and have helped set up a group for the children of China’s prisoners of conscience in the United States, they told RFA on the sidelines of a recent symposium on Chinese political prisoners.
“The hardest thing is that we miss him,” Ding’s wife Luo Shengchun said. “It’s also hard, because his actions were so peaceful.”
“This is definitely a miscarriage of justice, and we must continue to appeal it,” she said.
Luo, who hasn’t seen her husband for more than two years, said she had been able to receive letters written by him in prison, and even a recent photograph taken during a visit by his lawyer.
“He was convicted of ‘gathering a crowd to disrupt public order, and sentenced to three years’ imprisonment,” she said. “Actually, he was in favor of getting other people out onto the streets to call on officials to make public their assets.”
She said that continuing to work to support the cause of dissidents in China is an important part of dealing with the recent move, which follows similar moves by the families of other jailed activists hoping to avoid official harassment affecting their children’s schooling and careers.
“Of course it helps a bit [to have the mutual support of others in the same situation], but what makes me feel even more reassured is the fact that all these people are all working away for this cause,” Luo said.
“When you’re alone at home, it’s easy to feel isolated, but coming here to a place like this, it’s really a form of people power,” she said. “I think it’s great.”
Telling the truth
Luo said she would focus on telling the truth about China’s human rights record to those who don’t yet fully understand it, including many of the country’s 1.3 billion people, who have access only to tightly controlled state media versions of events.
“The [human rights situation] is terrible, but a lot of people who don’t know the real situation seem to look at China and think it’s doing pretty well, that all seems harmonious and well-governed there,” Luo said.
“That’s why we’re on a mission to tell people the truth about what’s really going on.”
She said the fact that ordinary Chinese people don’t even know about prisoners of conscience is “the biggest obstacle to further democratization.”
The couple’s daughter, who declined to be named, said she still has memories of accompanying Ding on some of the activities that eventually got him jailed.
“I remember being [with my father] at the entrance to the subway [in Beijing] and at various train and bus stations, handing out umbrellas to passers-by,” Ding’s daughter said.
“A lot of people would ask why we were doing this, and my father would reply that there is no why.”
“The umbrellas were dark blue, and they had characters printed on them, including the word ‘Citizen’,” she said.
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