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Tianyong, My Door Is Always Open

August 23, 2017


It has been over two years since the beginning of the 709 Crackdown. Sometimes I think you are unlucky, as you were arrested just when everyone thought the crackdown was coming to an end. But you are also lucky, as you were the third to the last person to go to trial, before Wang Quanzhang and Li Yanjun. I was shocked by this. I had always thought that you could avoid the human rights disaster that is the 709 Crackdown, but I also know that your mind was on your fellow human rights activists who had been wrongfully sent to prison. You said you didn’t want to think about it, otherwise you would be overwhelmed by sadness. So instead of sitting there, you stood up, took action, stopped thinking about it, and took the risk of getting arrested. I think you are lucky, because you said everybody being arrested made you feel guilty and you couldn’t sleep. When you finally got arrested, I understood, in my overwhelming pain, that you felt no more guilt and had your peace.

I first read about your trial at the Intermediate People's Court of Changsha from the Mingbao website. At first I was thrilled to get news of you at last. During the nine months and one day of your disappearance, your lawyer could not meet with you and the police only publicized two videos of you. Everyone doubts the authenticity of the videos, but I do hope the news about the trial is real. When I saw you in that courtroom, you were still too fat! And that reminded me of how, laughing through their tears, the 709 family members had given you the nickname “Chubby.” You were obviously much fatter than in the video published last year! I also remembered that almost all the lawyers and citizens who got arrested in the 709 Crackdown lost 30 pounds during detention and were forced to eat and gain weight before being released. I said to myself, “Can’t you just eat less?” I was worried that that kind of practice would be harmful to your health. When you were confessing in the courtroom, I couldn’t hear what you were saying, only the sound of your voice. Tears were streaming down my face. Tianyong, I was finally hearing the familiar sound of your voice. At last I was hearing your voice! Your voice was sometimes high, sometimes low; sometimes muttered, sometimes clear. Sometimes before a pause I could hear a trace of your home dialect in your Mandarin. As I watched the scene, I wanted desperately for the images of the other people in the courtroom to pass, but I was also worried I would miss a glimpse of you. So, I endured the sight of the other so-called “people” in this pantomime of justice.

Lawyer Huang said the trial took 116 minutes, but there were 141 minutes of video. For me that was great because I won the extra 25 minutes of you. Maybe the lawyers would shake their heads at me, but I don’t mind, since this is exactly what I, as a wife, was thinking about.

Tianyong, it is not a surprise that your parents were forced into being tools of the trial and taken back to their hometown right afterwards, and that you were disappeared once again. They have played these tricks before on those who have been caught up in the 709 Crackdown. I don’t know if they brought you to a new place, or for how long, but no matter if you confess or not, you are always welcome to come home! If the court says you are guilty, so what? Many friends think of the trial as your award ceremony. I don’t care about awards: from our twenty years of marriage, I know your kindness, integrity, compassion, and your commitment to justice.

I will keep speaking out for you until you are free!

709 Family Member, Jin Bianling

August 23, 2017