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  • On the Tragic Day of the Death of Zhang Qing, Wife of Guo Feixiong, CHRD Urges the Chinese Government to Free the Human Rights Intellectual, End Family Separations

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    After the death on January 10 of Zhang Qing, the wife of prominent Chinese dissident intellectual Guo Feixiong, CHRD calls for Chinese authorities to release Guo and to finally end the cruel and inhumane practice of using family separation to intimidate and punish dissidents and human rights defenders, as well as Uyghurs and members of other minority groups.  

    Guo Feixiong has been missing since December 5, and believed to have been forcibly detained by authorities. Over the last year, Guo attempted several times to reunite with his wife as she was battling terminal cancer in the United States, but Chinese authorities prohibited his departure from China.

    “CHRD condemns the cruel and inhumane treatment or punishment by the Chinese authorities. It’s senseless and malicious to keep Guo Feixiong from saying a final farewell to his dying wife,” said Renee Xia, CHRD director.

    “It is absolutely appalling that Guo Feixiong has twice been forced into disappearance when he requested that authorities let him go abroad to care for his wife. He has now been missing for over a month,” said William Nee, CHRD Coordinator for Research & Advocacy.

    “We call on the Chinese authorities to immediately release Guo Feixiong and lawyer Tang Jitian, who has also been prohibited from rejoining his ailing daughter in Japan, and who also vanished on December 10, Human Rights Day, ” said senior researcher and advocate Ramona Li.

    Background

    Guo Feixiong (also known as Yang Maodong, 杨茂东) is a prominent human rights activist from Guangzhou. He was criminally detained in August 2013 and formally arrested a month later in a nationwide crackdown on freedom of assembly, association, and expression that began the previous March. Guo was not allowed access to a lawyer until mid-November, and the lawyer reported that the activist had staged a hunger strike for over 20 days to protest the criminal charge against him. Police in Guangzhou accused Guo of organizing rallies in front of the Southern Weekly headquarters in January 2013, organizing a campaign calling on the government to ratify the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and also leading an anti-corruption campaign. Guo was indicted and tried alongside fellow activist Sun Desheng (孙德胜). On November 27, 2015, the Tianhe District People’s Court convicted Guo on an additional charge of “picking quarrels and provoking troubles” along with “gathering a crowd to disrupt order of a public place,” and handed down a six year sentence.

    Guo Feixiong is not the only prominent human rights defender to have gone missing in December. On December 10 human rights lawyer Tang Jitian was set to attend a “Human Rights Day” event in Beijing organized by the European Union. However, Tang Jitian has not been heard from since. Earlier in June, Chinese authorities prevented Tang from leaving the country to reunite with his daughter who had tuberculosis and was seriously ill in Japan.

    Forced family separation has also been used to horrific effect against Uyghur and other minority parents living abroad. According to a 2021 Amnesty International report, many parents were forced to flee in recent years while leaving one or more children in the care of family members in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. The government’s mass detention campaign combined with systematic repression has prevented Uyghur parents from returning to China to take care of their children themselves. Authorities have also made it nearly impossible for their children to leave China to reunite with their parents abroad. The Chinese government has launched an unprecedented crackdown on non-Han groups in the region, with a horrific impact on the lives of what is estimated to be thousands of such parents.

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