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Five Women Speak: Datu/Zheng Churan (with tears): “This Time, You’re Stronger and More Courageous than I Am” (Excerpt)

April 20, 2015

[Translation by Human Rights in China]

Chinese original

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.

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