[Translation by Human Rights in China]
Datu/Zheng Churan (with tears): “This Time, You’re Stronger and More Courageous than I Am” (Excerpt)
April 20, 2015
To all of you, my dearest:
Knowing how fearless and headstrong I usually am, perhaps you thought I spent my 38 days in detention as the “prisoner-in-charge” or the champion of women’s rights, right? Ha ha, this time, you can laugh at me for 50,000 years, because in detention, there wasn’t a single day that I didn’t cry. . . .
Again and again, I couldn’t control myself at all. I cried so much that I hated myself for being weak and powerless, and I was afraid I would go blind (especially because after my glasses were taken away, I would have to squint in order to see anything). I cried until my cell mates, who really took care of me, said, “Datu/Tutu/Child/Dabao, stay strong, survival is possible anywhere. When you cry, we feel pain in our hearts and have to cry with you.” (Life in prison makes one realize the extraordinary human creativity that surfaces in situations of hopelessness, but we’ll talk more about all this when we see each other.) I cried so much that even the police officers tried to comfort me, saying “Don’t cry anymore. We didn’t bring you here to see you cry.” (Some of them actually took good care of me.)
I thought I would just cry my eyes out when I was inside, and I’d be fine once I got out. But I was wrong! I am still crying. When I quietly recall the numerous expressions of solidarity that surfaced during the 38 days, I am shaken from head to toe! During the one time I met with my lawyer, Lawyer Hu, he told me that there were a great many people out there supporting me, internationally and inside China, especially the important ones. In that moment, I was really moved, but I couldn’t have imagined the huge, earth-shaking support—support that I had never seen before. I was so moved that I didn’t know what to say, so shaken that I could only cry. I used someone’s cellphone to read some of the articles that hadn’t been censored yet (of course, all that was left of an overwhelming majority of the WeChat articles were big red exclamation points), crying as I read them. Seeing our faces freely roaming to every corner of the world (luckily, I was a “selfie”-maniac) made my heart twitch. Then seeing our supporters get “invited to tea,” receive warnings from their schools, and the interrogations at Zhongshan University, I really couldn’t stop crying.
What made me most proud were the clear and conscientious actions by schoolmates at Zhongshan, and by the brothers and sisters from various other schools. I saw greetings and support from almost all over the world, and saw that women’s rights were the most widely-discussed topic. Feminists, women's rights workers, LGBTQIA supporters, NGO-ers, our lawyers, legal professionals, citizens, workers, students, academics, researchers, friends in the media, and various civil society individuals. . . I went through every single post by all my friends (even today, I am still reading, and still crying occasionally) . . . I’ve read many times the various articles by teachers I had admired. . .
It is you, who are more courageous and stronger than I am. It is you, who have returned me back to a person—who, although still continuing to cry, is beginning to calm down. Thank you all for everything, thank for your existence, in the past, present, and future.
Wu Rongrong: “I Look Forward To Getting Together To Chat over Drinks” (Excerpt)
April 18, 2015
. . . Looking back over the past 37, 38 days, even the most difficult days when I was forced to sleep on the floor and without medication, I knew I had to take care of myself, and be stronger. I hoped that upon my release, I would witness the scenes of others hearing, seeing, and feeling the sounds and power of women’s rights. . . .
I saw Maizi, Datu, and Wang Man in the detention center. Although we were separated in different cells, somehow, whatever little bits of news that came through, comforted me a little for many days. On the last day, I prayed that all four of them would be released, and that, if they must, they should detain only me—since I’m older than they are. One of my cellmates was transferred from Maizi’s cell. When she told me that Maizi also prepared herself to be locked up for a long time, I was especially touched. What strength she has.
The night I was released, my husband, choked with emotions, told me what had happened outside. I felt unprecedented contentment and strength. Just as teacher Wang Zheng says, “This is a worldwide women’s rights movement. . . .”
Wei Tingting: “To My Little Companions – Thank You Letter from Waiting” (Excerpt)
April 17, 2015
. . . Since the day I was released, I have been catching up on reading your articles and posts, and various media reports, and began weeping a lot. There’s a lot I want to say but have been too overwhelmed by emotions to get it out. I wept when I saw all the international support and statements; I wept when I learned that popo cried when she was hanging my laundry to dry; I wept when I learned that Xiao Tie prepared a poster of Esther Eng1 for me; I wept when I read the articles from my two social groups. I was touched when I saw the photos of support, and I particularly liked the one with two half-naked girls. I was touched when people said that we feminist activists are vital, unstoppable, and unyielding. I was even more unable to stop crying when I saw you were walking with our photos in all these cities—actions so naughty, resolute, lovable, and heartwarming. And when Lawyer Wang visited me and told me that because we were deprived of our freedom, there were people who wore masks of our faces in different places, and had photos taken of them, I cried non-stop.
S said the people outside suffered as much as those in jail, which almost made me cry. Just a few hours ago, Huang Ye said she was frightened after reading my posts, and said she wanted to find me some psychological help. Many friends called to ask how I was doing after I had been released, too. The list of friends who invited me to a meal to calm my nerves has already become very big. What touched me even more are the supportive statements by friends from my university and the articles written for me by the fellow students. Isn’t that the cause and the objective of what we do: raise awareness about gender equality among more people so that they become part of creating the change? Seeing our faces being exposed in different countries, friends from All Out generously offering to help with whatever we need, friends wanting to give me new mobile phones and computers because mine has been confiscated—all these fill me with love, hope, and courage, and encourage me to go on with my path with even more determination.
At first I was frustrated and thought that it would be the end of our feminist activist group. Yet, the actions of each of you began another era of magnificent, resolute, and indomitable feminist activism. As Sile said: “whether the movement is sustainable depends on the young comrades. Facing difficulties, the young comrades didn’t scatter but overcame their fears to take action. I can feel even without seeing them that we are closely and profoundly linked together. What luck and blessings have made this close connection possible. I love you more than ever before. . . .”
This past Wednesday, I listened and hummed to Maizi’s “Tough Women’s Song” all day. The song kept reminding me of the duet we had in prison. It was the morning of April 1 when the warden was taking me to meet with my lawyer. By that time I was already very worried about Maizi. Every time she was brought for interrogation, she would pass by my cell. My cell mate would shout—as I couldn’t see because I am so near-sighted—“the person in your case is passing by again.” So I knew she had been interrogated much more frequently than I had. My cellmate had a strong impression of Maizi because she always had the look of a ruffian when she was passing by. Maizi is a warrior type of a person. She was the one I worried about the most: can a person as tough as that get broken? Then I worried about Rongrong and Wang Man too. They always made me think of Cao Shunli. . . .
1. Esther Eng (1914-1970) was a Chinese-American film director, and the first female director to direct Chinese-language films in the United States.
Wang Man’s Thank-you Letter (Excerpt)
To the friends who showed their concern and gave their help:
April 20, 2015
. . . Thank you to my four “accomplices.” Their singing voices, which penetrated through the high walls, along with their strong and committed expressions, helped me hold back the tears in those many moments when I felt like crying.
Thank you to all my fellow inmates who helped me (I hope they are able to read this once they are out). They stood in for me to complete my chores and work my shifts, and gave me the best spot by the wall to lean on so that I could rest. They encouraged me to “maintain my spirits and be resolute until the end. . . .”
Thank you to all of the domestic and international women’s rights organizations and individuals. Your great efforts in raising your arms and shouting out on behalf of complete strangers, thousands of miles away, made me realize and appreciate deeply the tremendous power of cross-border solidarity.
The 38 days within the high walls have made me even stronger. Even now, we still have not yet gained the freedom and justice that we deserve. We will continue to strive and fight for this, and also hope that we can receive the sustained support from all of our friends from across the world.
Li Tingting (Maizi): “Short in words but long in love—there are too many thanks that I would like to give" (Excerpt)
April 20, 2015
. . . Thank you to all the international friends for your support. Thank you to all of the many allies and like-minded people—those we know and don’t know. It was your concern and support, along with your vigorous appeals, that made even more people know and understand us, and that made the world and China see the strength of young feminist activists. If we finally achieve the dignity and freedom we deserve, your contributions cannot be overlooked.
Thank you to my family. You faced danger fearlessly, withstood the pressure, and refused to write the family letter to urge me to confess. You became my most solid backing and safe harbor, allowing me to be absolutely free from worry about my family.
Thank you to my girlfriend, who endured humiliation and abuse during difficult moments, and used her own methods to strive for the best outcome for me. To this day, she is still exhausting herself in planning and making arrangements for me for after my release. Xiao La, sorry, I have made you suffer.
Short in words but long in love. There are too many thanks I would like to give. I hope that in the future I will have an opportunity to say thank you to all. Revolution has not yet been accomplished; comrades still need to work hard. Going forward, I will continue to strive for my own innocence and freedom and never stop in the pursuit of justice. My faith in women’s rights has never wavered and has only become more clear and firm after the storm! Thank you again to everyone!