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Wife of Wuhan Activist Details Harassment and Unlawful Detention and Appeals to International Community

August 22, 2012

In an open letter to the United Nations, Wang Xifeng (王喜凤), a teacher from Shanxi Province, details the abuses that she and husband Qin Yongmin (秦永敏) have suffered over the past several months at the hands of various government authorities. She and Qin, a well-known democracy activist based in Wuhan, Hubei Province, were married in a traditional wedding ceremony on May 13, 2012, after applying for a marriage certificate. Authorities have continued to refuse to issue the couple a marriage certificate, which has prompted Wang to seek assistance from the international community. Human Rights in China’s English translation of Wang’s letter is below; the original Chinese is available on HRIC’s website.

In the letter, Wang says that the authorities unlawfully detained her and Qin for 26 days in June and have been restricting their freedom of movement with round-the-clock surveillance. Wang states that she underwent an abortion because family planning policy prohibits unmarried couples to have children. Wang alleges that the authorities have also harassed her family and ex-husband under the pretext of investigation, and have attempted to kidnap her to return her to Shanxi. Wang calls for an international investigation into their situation and demands that the Chinese authorities issue her and Qin a marriage certificate and ensure their basic human rights.

Qin is a long-time activist and spent two of the past three decades in prison for his activism and writings. In 1998, he was convicted of “subversion of state power” after calling for political reform and cofounding the China Democracy Party (CDP) and sentenced to 12 years in prison. Despite being under three years of deprivation of political rights following his release from prison in November 2010, Qin has continued his rights defense work and his writing. This has resulted in Qin being put into administrative detention several times, kept in black jails for months, and summoned by the police and threatened numerous times.

Qin Yongmin began his activism in the late 1970s. He participated in the Wuhan Democracy Wall Movement in 1979 and created and edited a democracy magazine Bell. He was detained in 1981 and sentenced to eight years’ imprisonment and three years’ deprivation of political rights for “counterrevolutionary propaganda and incitement.” From 1993 to 1995, Qin served two years of Reeducation-Through-Labor for drafting the “Peace Charter,” a collective open call on the Chinese government to reevaluate its stance on the June Fourth crackdown, release all political prisoners, and allow exiled students and academics to return to China. The charter also asked the Chinese government to adopt democratic elections with multiple political parties. 

Open Letter to the United Nations Human Rights Committee on the Chinese Authorities’ Unlawful Refusal to Issue a Marriage Certificate to Qin Yongmin and Me and Their Attempt to Abduct Me

Wang Xifeng

August 13, 2012

[English translation by Human Rights in China]

Qin Yongmin, a well-known Chinese scholar and prominent democracy and human rights activist, and I were married on May 13, 2012.

Since then, not only have we been closely monitored every day by Chinese government authorities, and not only have the authorities used the withholding of our marriage certificate to force us to “unlawfully cohabitate,” there is now also evidence that the authorities are using any means necessary to abduct me and take me back to my hometown in Shanxi.

In a country where public authorities are not subject to any restraint or supervision, our rights and freedoms as citizens not only receive no protection but are constantly violated, trampled on, and ravaged. The torment that we, as democracy and human rights activist and wife, suffer daily is truly unimaginable for people who are not from here.

I first visited Qin Yongmin in April 2012. On my train trip back to Datong [Shanxi Province], I was forcibly searched as if I were a crime suspect. My identity card was photographed several times.

I arrived in Wuhan on April 30, 2012, to prepare to marry Qin Yongmin. On May 7, we were unlawfully detained. In front of a bank in Wuhan, Qin Yongmin and I were taken into custody by officers from the district domestic security division and Xingouqiao police substation. The authorities did not give any reason; the real reason was simply that I was going to marry Qin. The substation police and the domestic security officers were in fact rather polite to me when I got there. They questioned me about my previous family’s situation, asked for my QQ account number, and requested the contact information of my close relatives. But they were as extremely insulting and abusive as they possibly could be towards Qin, and even demanded that he account for every word and deed of our love affair!

We held a wedding ceremony and reception on May 13. The authorities treated it as if they were facing a great enemy. Several hundred of our friends were blocked from the area, which looked like an execution ground. Not only were people beaten up, but nearly one hundred guests in a nearby restaurant that was surrounded by police were to several nearby police substations. The numerous obstacles preventing our wedding reception and the repressive measures used really filled us with resentment and contempt.

My fourth visit to Qin in Wuhan was June 1-26, and it was the second time that I suffered detention for “unlawful cohabitation.” I spent my honeymoon being “Article 73-ed” [referring to Article 73 of the revised Criminal Procedure Law, which allows putting a suspect of crimes of endangering state security, terrorism, or serious bribery under residential surveillance at a “designated” place that is other than the residence of the suspect], in what they call a “law study class.”

On August 8, domestic security once again came to our home to forcibly take me away!

Not only that, ever since I came to Wuhan to marry Qin Yongmin, the local authorities looked for a variety of reasons to deny us our marriage certificate despite our meeting all the requirements and following all the procedures; they even set up obstacles to prevent us from applying for the marriage certificate. We applied in Wuhan, where the authorities said our household registration booklets were missing their title pages. We wanted to apply in Shanxi, but the authorities absolutely would not permit Qin to leave Wuhan. We followed the steps laid out by the local authorities to handle this. But the Hubei and Shanxi authorities were not only mutually shirking their responsibilities; some even openly said that they would not go through with any of the procedures for us at all!

Let me ask, in all of history, what country, what government has prevented the marriages of the citizens under its jurisdiction by using such despicable tactics?

Let me ask, in all of history, what country, what government has possessed the power to forbid the marriage of its citizens?

Even more infuriating and frightening is that since coming to Wuhan and marrying Qin, the authorities have continued to monitor us, watch us, and shadow us around the clock.

The authorities repeatedly emphasized that they absolutely would not permit Qin to leave Wuhan, and if he did, he would face serious punishment. Even when we leave Qingshan District, if we take the bus, they follow us; if we take a private car, they actually force their way into the car to go with us. As soon as we leave the house, they follow us by foot, by motorcycle, or by car. During our morning jog, they not only follow us by bicycle, but they park a car along our path to watch us. Even if we sit at home all day, the authorities still position numerous people near our house. Not only do they arbitrarily detain our visitors, they also occasionally come into our home and harass us! On June 1, when the authorities came to unlawfully take us away, all of a sudden, dozens of people without any law enforcement status burst into our house. I’m constantly fearful as a result. Ever since then whenever someone knocks on our door I become flustered, my limbs go weak, and my blood pressure rises!

All of this unlawful persecution is something the average person cannot even imagine, much less to withstand.

And why?

Because I try to be a Chinese citizen who abides by the Constitution. Because I married an outstanding democracy and human rights activist. Because I yearn for the universal values of democracy, freedom, human rights, and rule of law.

The various rebuke I have suffered is not limited to these incidents. The authorities have not only used the power of the state to unjustifiably deprive Qin and me the right to obtain a marriage certificate, leaving me with no choice but to terminate my pregnancy—because in the context of the CPC’s harsh family planning policy, they could force an abortion at seven or eight months if you do not have a marriage certificate. What is most terrifying is that they even intend to abduct me and take me back to Shanxi!

Since I came to Wuhan and married Qin Yongmin, my family in Datong have been questioned numerous times.

Not only that, Datong domestic security officers have also sought out my ex-husband four times.

The first time, they telephoned him. The second time, they came in car to Qianfoling Elementary School, where he was, to investigate. The third and fourth times, they spoke with him in person.

These four times were focused on investigating me. The main things that they were investigating can be categorized as follows:

1. They investigated my family situation before my (first) marriage, namely my parents, siblings, and even the former wife of my late father who was married to him some 50 years ago.

2. They investigated my family situation during my first marriage, namely my ex-husband’s family situation, as well as various aspects of his and our son’s lives.

3. They investigated the situation of my work unit, my thinking and movements, and my reason and motivation for marrying Qin Yongmin.

What is intolerable is that domestic security even tried to interfere with my marriage. They repeatedly told my ex-husband to ask me to go back to him, saying that if I return to Datong and part with Qin Yongmin, everything would be easy. They would not only restore my job at Hunyuan Middle School, but would also quite investigating me for any of my prior “crimes”!

Especially ridiculous was that domestic security told him [my ex-husband] that not only were domestic security in Datong and Wuhan following my affairs—the entire Ministry of State Security was monitoring us at all times. They went so far as to threaten him, that they have plenty of ways to deal with us. They said, “If she doesn't return [to Datong], the state could severely punish them at any time.”

There were other things in connection with the above that happened at the same time. At the request of the Wuhan domestic security, I sent my household registration booklet to Shanxi so it could verified. The authorities in Hunyuan County [Shanxi Province] did not simply fail to verify my household registration; they also said that they were “fully aware of Wang Xifeng’s situation” and attempted to illegally confiscate my household registration booklet. At the same time, the next day, Wuhan authorities specifically came to our home to ask me to “go to the station for a chat.” I refused, and Qin Yongmin asked to go in my place, but they refused point blank. Clearly, the authorities were not only using the strength of their political power to keep us from obtaining a marriage certificate, they were also trying to force me to return to Shanxi; and it’s even entirely possible that they would use illegal abduction to grab me back to Shanxi!

As a Chinese citizen, I strongly condemn the Chinese government for this inhumane, unethical, and law-defying absurdity. I strongly urge the Chinese government to honor my rights to freedom of marriage and personal freedom as provided for by the Constitution of the People’s Republic of China!

Thus I call on the United Nations Human Rights Council [sic] to conduct a thorough investigation that I— wife of Chinese democracy and human rights activist Qin Yongmin—have suffered, and demand that the Chinese authorities issue us a marriage certificate in accordance with the law as well as ensure our basic human rights!


For more information about Wang Xifeng and Qin Yongmin, see: