In the first few days of the Beijing Olympics, there were media reports that Zeng Jinyan, the wife of imprisoned human rights activist Hu Jia has disappeared.  Before anything could be confirmed, it was known that the police have pressured her in the last few weeks of July to leave Beijing “voluntarily” during the Games.  AI later confirmed that the police had taken Zeng and her baby to a hotel room for 16 days during the Olympics, guarded, monitored and kept her incommunicado.  On her blog (the original blog post is in Simplified Chinese, Global Voices Advocacy posted an English translation), she said she was taken to Dalian (288 miles by air from Beijing) on August 8th and she was brought home on August 23rd.

Before the temporary disappearance, she visited Hu Jia in prison on August 7th and found out the prison officials confiscated the letters he wrote to the family.  Zeng has not received a letter from him in August.  Before then, he wrote letters every week.  The prison officials told Zeng that Hu Jia has been talking to others in prison about prisoners’ dignity and human rights.  They want the family to tell him to stop spreading his views.  Zeng doesn’t know when she will get to visit Hu Jia again.

In her latest blog post, Zeng said she received a letter from Hu Jia on September 5th and he explained he couldn’t write letters to her and their baby until now.  He continued to do manual labor in prison.  She then described how he was denied his right to talk to his family by phone.  According to prison policies, he should be allowed to call his family twice a month.  She inquired about it and she was told the prison’s phone system was being worked on.  But every time she called the prison directly, a person picked up the phone.  Upon answering she is Hu Jia’s family, she was told the person in charge was away in meetings.

Furthermore, the police asked Zeng to persuade Hu Jia to stop causing trouble in prison.  Otherwise, the prison might not allow her to visit.  Prison policies stated it is required to send an official notice to inform the prisoner’s family about the date of visit each month.  Zeng has not received such a notice so far.  She has been calling the police to ask when she can visit.  In the past, the police would tell her approximately when she can see Hu Jia.  But recently, the police told her they didn’t receive any information from prison.

At the end of the blog post, she wrote the following wishes:

  • She hopes the prison would follow the rules by issuing formal notices of prison visits and settling on a regular time of visit.
  • She hopes the prison would no longer confiscate Hu Jia’s letters to the family without reasons, stop requiring him to do manual labor (he has liver disease), and stop making work, rest and meals arrangements that would negatively affect Hu Jia’s health.
  • The law does not ban lawyers and non-registered family members from visiting Hu Jia.  His mother-in-law (Zeng’s mother) whose name is not on his list of registered family members, has not been allowed to see him.  According to the law, she should be able to see him.  Zeng thought the prison’s explanation of “non-registered person cannot visit” was improper.

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