Taiwanese politician offers to help Chinese activist whose daughter is barred from school

PUBLISHED : Friday, 12 April, 2013, 3:29pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 29 August, 2013, 4:13am

A high-ranking member of the Taiwanese opposition Democratic Progressive Party has taken up the cause of a mainland activist's 10 year-old daughter - who has been barred from attending school.

Hung Chih-kun, a DPP Central Executive Committee, told the South China Morning Post he had talked to long-term democracy activist Zhang Lin and that he would make an effort to spread word of Zhang's case internationally.

Hung's comments came a day after the Taiwanese politician, whose party advocates the island's legal independence from China, tweeted that he wanted to get in touch with Zhang to raise awareness of his case. Hung had joined Sina Weibo on April 1. 

"While I am a member of the DPP's Executive Committee, this matter has nothing to do with the DPP or any political personalities," he wrote, adding that he wanted to prevent "allegations of an intervention of hostile foreign forces".

"I, this 'foreign force', have become a 'foreign ambassador'," he wrote on Friday. Hung told the Post he had offered to help Zhang's daughter Anni find a school in Taiwan.

"I would be very happy to if Anni could go to school to Taiwan", activist Zhang told the Post. He said he worried that the process of getting her there would be too lengthy and added that he was aware Hung wasn't speaking for the Taiwanese government.

The primary school's refusal to allow Anni to return to class has caused outrage throughout the country and led to an online movement of people sharing photos of themselves holding banners in support of Anni.

On February 27, Zhang Lin had been detained at a police station in Hupo, Hefei, and told he was not allowed to be in the city, because he lacked a local residence permit. His daughter was then picked up at her primary school by four men and taken to the police station, where they were both kept until the following day.

They were then taken to his hometown of Bengbu in Anhui. Zhang told the Post his daughter had been "traumatised" by the experience. With the help of activist lawyers Tang Jitian and Jiang Tianyong he is now trying to legally challenge the school's decision to bar his daughter from attending class.

Zhang, 49, had been active during the 1989 democracy protests in Anhui and has since then been jailed several times for criticising the government. He was last released in 2009.