Persecuted rights activist flees to U.S.

Friday, June 1, 2018

Zhao Fengsheng (left) with his wife, Quan Haiyan (right),
and their daughter, Zhao Shihan (center) shortly after
arriving in the U.S. on May 30.
(Photo: ChinaAid)

(Texas—June 1, 2018) Renowned civil rights advocate Zhao Fengsheng arrived in the U.S.with his wife and daughter yesterday after suffering severe persecution at the hands of the Chinese government.

Lacking a warrant, Hunan police took Zhao, a staunch activist for the rights of farmers and migrant workers, from his home in 2013 and charged him with “subversion of state power.” In January 2014, they changed his charge to “using dangerous methods to endanger public safety” and arrested him, but when his trial occurred in June of that year, they altered the charge again to “inciting subversion of state power.” On Nov. 28, 2014, the court sentenced Zhao to four years in prison followed by a three-year deprivation of political rights, but he was allowed to return home in April 2017, seven months early.

During the prosecution phase, Zhao’s attorney, Liu Weiguo, learned that national security had pinpointed Zhao months before his arrest as part of a crackdown on the freedom associate, peacefully assemble, and express views.

Shortly before Zhao’s arrest, two articles the Communist Party attributed to him appeared online, calling for the overthrow of the Chinese government. One was addressed to the Turkistan Islamic Party, a group of Uyghurs considered terrorists by the China’s officials. One article suggested that they should attack China’s leadership rather than innocent individuals, and the other called for the Chinese people to rise up against the government. However, it is likely that the Chinese government falsely attributed these articles to Zhao in order to frame him. The actual author is unknown.

After his release from prison, Zhao was closely watched by authorities at all hours, who forbid him from traveling and did not allow him to work. Because of these intense restrictions, Zhao and his family decided to leave China and escape to the United States. He and his wife, Quan Haiyan, along with their five year-old daughter, Zhao Shihan, arrived in the U.S. yesterday.

ChinaAid exposes abuses, such as those suffered by the Zhao family, in order to stand in solidarity with the persecuted and promote religious freedom, human rights, and rule of law.

Updated June 1 at 5:33 p.m. to add further details about the circumstances surrounding Zhao and his family fleeing China.

ChinaAid Media Team
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