This article was first published in China Change website on December 10, 2017
Introducing Li Wenzu
Li Wenzu (李文足) was born in Badong, Hubei, on April 5, 1985. She is the wife of Wang Quanzhang (王全璋), a human rights lawyer who was arrested during the 709 crackdown. She worked as a tour guide and did business. After losing contact with her husband in July, 2015, she became a housewife, taking care of her son and working to rescue Wang as well as other lawyers and activists arrested in the 709 Incident.
During the two years since Wang’s disappearance, Li and other 709 families have stood by each other in the face of harassment, threats, detentions, and even physical violence. They persevered even as their children were forced out of school and their relatives pressured to return to their hometowns. They have spared no efforts, be it appeal, protest, or legal action, to rescue the victims of the 709 crackdown.
In the wake of the 709 incident, Li Wenzu stood up to represent all those affected. She did not retreat in the face of her husband’s arrest, but demonstrated the courage to defend his legal rights. In addition to actively networking with other relatives of those affected by the 709 incident, she proactively connected with the broader civil society.
There is a kind of love that yearns for joy and happiness, yet is tempered by suffering and adversity. It is validated by tears and bitterness. This is a love that comes from genuine humanity and is strengthened by freedom and justice. This kind of love manifests courage, dignity, and nobleness.
There is a woman who had a normal married life taking care of her child, parents, and husband. She could go out and spend time with her girlfriends. But when confronted with her husband’s sudden arrest and disappearance, she wiped her tears and went out in search of him. For the sake of love, she stood up to harassment, threats, detention, and even beating.
She did all this to pursue love, freedom and justice — in her words: “We hope to reunite, yet even more we hope to see justice being honored in this country. Only when justice is upheld are our nation and our citizens blessed. Until justice is done, our reunion will not be complete.”
She was not only defending the rights to which she and her husband are entitled. She was defending the rule of law that her husband, a human rights lawyer, and the other 709 lawyers have defended. She has fought for everyone’s freedom and justice.
In her husband’s time of need, she stood by him. When others came at her with various reasons to pressure her out of supporting him, she said: “I will be there with my husband to the end, even if it means giving up my life.” “When our son grows up, he will see that for whatever hardship his father suffered, his mother also bore a share—this is the best explanation we could give him.” For her, love is not just a honeymoon, it is the unconditional willingness to stay in the same boat, rain or shine.
Today, we are here to respectfully present the “Outstanding Citizenship Award” to Ms. Li Wenzu. We wish to express our heartfelt gratitude to her for taking the courage to stand out as an upright and dignified citizen, demonstrating to all the true value of love, freedom, and justice. Her every word and deed has admirably displayed the true meaning of “citizenship.”
We believe that love will bless and envelop Ms. Li Wenzu and her husband Wang Quanzhang. Freedom is waiting for them, and the glory of justice is theirs. We hereby wish her peace and joy, and hope she can reunite with her husband in the near future.
China Citizens Movement Outstanding Citizenship Award Selection Committee
December 10, 2017