‘They threatened to arrest us each in combination’ — Radio Loose Asia


A Chinese language rights activist who overtly supported the “white paper” protest motion of November 2022 has implemented for political asylum within the Netherlands after finding out that he may well be focused as a part of an ongoing case towards his dissident father. Zhang Hongyuan, son of veteran Wuhan-based rights activist Zhang Yi, flew from Beijing to Amsterdam on April 13 after finding out that he was once being named as a co-defendant along his father, who’s being focused for giving interviews to out of the country media organizations throughout the Wuhan lockdown of 2020. He spoke to RFA Mandarin about his present state of affairs:

RFA: The place are you at the moment?

Zhang Hongyuan: I’m now in a the city within the Netherlands, a couple of 20-minute power from The Hague.

RFA: When did you permit the immigration detention middle?

Zhang Hongyuan: They ultimately determined to place me on this open camp once I have been within the immigration detention middle for 12 days. I had my first interview with the immigration bureau within the detention middle. When I stayed within the immigration jail for twelve days, they in spite of everything determined to place me on this open camp. I finished [two interviews] with the immigration bureau within the immigration jail.

RFA: You shot some video of the “white paper” protest that went viral. Was once this the principle explanation why to your political asylum software?

Zhang Hongyuan: It is one of the crucial causes. I did get video from the [police] clearance of the demonstration on Hanzheng Side road in Wuhan, even supposing the individuals who had been in reality maintaining up clean sheets of paper were not on Hanzheng Side road, however on Yiyuan Street.

The true explanation why I’m in the hunt for political asylum is that we won information that they’re making plans to prosecute me along my father as a co-defendant as a result of my father gave interviews to international media throughout the pandemic.

RFA: How did you return by way of that data?

Zhang Hongyuan: Other people connected to the case instructed us, however I will’t divulge the main points.

RFA: Does that imply any individual within the govt?

Zhang Hongyuan: Sure.

RFA: A lot of people spoke to international media throughout the lockdown, so what’s so particular about Zhang Yi’s case?

Zhang Hongyuan: It is because we had been in Wuhan, and he was once giving interviews to any international media that requested, all over lockdown. And since international newshounds would let him know they sought after to interview him by way of calling his Chinese language mobile phone [without messaging first], the police would have identified about it in an instant, although we by no means in reality gave interviews at the telephone. We discovered a more secure method of giving the interview later. 

In spite of everything, the police instructed my father that he have been interviewed by way of greater than 60 other media organizations all over the world. My father did not even understand what number of there have been as a result of he did not rely them.

RFA: What’s your father’s state of affairs now?

Zhang Hongyuan: At this time he is in Wuhan. First off, the [ruling Chinese Communist Party’s] political and prison affairs committee of Hubei province wish to arrest him, and the central political and prison affairs committee [in Beijing] sought after to make it an open-and-shut case and requested the Hubei political and prison affairs committee to have the opportunity. They sought after [me] as his son to be arrested along him and charged as a co-defendant. Then they came upon I had left the rustic after you reported that I used to be in the hunt for asylum, and now my father is below round the clock surveillance, with guards at his door.

There’s a automobile downstairs out of doors our rental development with a group of 3 other people following him 24/7. It sort of feels they’re on the brink of detain him at any time. I have been in a position to depart [China], however there is no method he’s going to be capable of.

RFA: Was once there some other explanation why the Hubei govt has been preserving this type of shut eye on Zhang Yi?

Zhang Hongyuan: Sure. As a result of he has been calling for the discharge of [disappeared pandemic journalist] Fang Bin for the previous 3 years … in interviews with international media. 

Wuhan-based activist Zhang Yi and his son Zhang Hongyuan. Credit score: Equipped by way of Zhang Hongyuan

RFA: Why did the federal government take motion towards you, when it was once your father who was once giving the interviews?

Zhang Hongyuan: As a result of I’m his weak point. They threaten him by way of threatening to arrest us each in combination, I feel that is [official] Chinese language good judgment. Additionally, I assisted him with the interviews, as a result of all of his encrypted chats required circumvention equipment to get across the Nice Firewall [of internet censorship]. When he was once interviewed by way of the Voice of The us, one of the conversation was once performed by the use of electronic mail like Gmail, and I additionally helped him use instrument like Skype and WhatsApp.

RFA: So it was once simply technical help?

Zhang Hongyuan: Sure, technical help. However after he was once interviewed, when the police got here to threaten him, I additionally shot a video of them that was once broadcast by way of Jap TV station NHK.

RFA: All over the “white paper” motion, you stated that you simply witnessed protests on Hanzheng Side road?

Zhang Hongyuan: Sure. Hanzheng Side road is a wholesale buying groceries mall in Wuhan, and it helps huge numbers of other people, however below the stern lockdown stipulations, that they had no option to paintings and no meals to devour. Then got here the white paper motion after the Urumqi incident, and the entire nation marched in combination. Even in Wuhan, they started to carry demonstrations towards the stern zero-COVID coverage.

RFA: Have been there any political slogans shouted on Hanzheng Side road, for instance calling on Xi Jinping to step down?

Zhang Hongyuan: By the point I were given there on Nov. 27, 2022, it was once night time, they usually had been clearing the protesters away. I did not listen any slogans like that.

RFA: How did your get away from China pass?

Zhang Hongyuan: The method was once fairly clean, even supposing I used to be very worried as I used to be leaving. One fear was once that the airline would forestall me from boarding, and the opposite was once that the border guards would forestall me.

RFA: However you continue to took the chance and determined to depart?

Zhang Hongyuan: Sure. I have been instructed by way of my resources that if the Hubei provincial political and prison affairs committee sought after to have me stopped on the border, it must make this request by the use of upper ranges of presidency, in particular as I’ve a blank prison report. The entire procedure took simply 3 days from my resolution to depart, to my touchdown in Amsterdam, after I heard upfront from buddies that we might each be detained. I left very all of a sudden. It wasn’t till once I arrived that the police instructed Zhang Yi that I might most probably have won a sentence of 3-5 years, as an associate. We did not know that earlier than; simplest that I might be arrested.

I had different causes for leaving. In March, I drove from Wuhan to Laos, smuggling Yang Min into Laos. Yang Min’s daughter died of COVID-19 … and he or she attempted to get some fact and responsibility about that. She determined to depart China as a result of she was once unwilling to be matter to restrictions on speech in China, together with harassment by way of the state safety police. We drove 3,000 kilometers from Wuhan to Vientiane, simply the 2 folks. 

RFA: Did the federal government find out about this?

Zhang Hongyuan: Sure they did, as a result of after we swiped our ID playing cards thrice on the Yunnan border, and our ID playing cards had been photographed, along with the registration number plate. I additionally assisted Ai Weiwei, who made a documentary known as “Coronation” in 2020 in regards to the emergence of the pandemic in Wuhan. I made subtitles for interviews in Hubei dialect, and my identify seems within the credit on the finish.

RFA: Was once this one of the crucial belongings you had been to be charged with? 

Zhang Hongyuan: Sure.

RFA: Have you ever all the time supported your father’s phrases and deeds?

Zhang Hongyuan: Prior to I used to be in highschool, I did not actually perceive my father’s phrases and deeds, which brought about him to be continuously arrested and puzzled by way of the police station, and taken a large number of bother to our circle of relatives. However as I were given older and my global view modified, I understood that what my father was once doing was once in reality selling democratic development, and I all the time supported him after that. When I used to be in highschool, he was once also referred to as by way of the police station for wondering from time to time, and the wondering lasted 24 hours. One time he was once accused of “selecting quarrels and stirring up bother”, and he was once detained for 15 days or a couple of days. I lightly went to the police station on my own to invite them for solutions about how my father was once doing. I demanded a solution in writing.

RFA: What left the largest influence on you, after 3 years of the pandemic in Wuhan?

Zhang Hongyuan: I feel it was once when Dr. Li Wenliang handed.

RFA: What touched you about that?

Zhang Hongyuan: Dr. Li stated {that a} wholesome society can not have just one voice.

RFA: Why was once that so transferring?

Zhang Hongyuan: As a result of he proved his level together with his existence. He have been a birthday party member earlier than, however I used to be actually moved that he may just make a remark like that earlier than he died.

Translated by way of Luisetta Mudie. Edited by way of Malcolm Foster.



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