Wife of cancer-stricken Jiangsu activist denied bail

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 16 February, 2013, 11:57am
UPDATED : Saturday, 16 February, 2013, 1:43pm

It has been a tough Chinese New Year for Yao Baohua, a 75-year-old mathematics teacher-turned-rights activist in China’s eastern Jiangsu province.

Yao has recently been diagnosed with stomach cancer. Local authorities are pressuring him to give up his house to make way for a commercial development. Meanwhile, his wife and son remain jailed in Changzhou city after the family turned down the government's proposal.

Yao suffered another setback on Friday when he received a police notice denying his request to bail out his wife and son - citing the “criminal” nature of his wife’s actions.

“I need her to sign the papers for my cancer operation,” Yao said. “They have deprived her of that right. Where are her human rights?” he asked.

Yao Qin, Yao’s daughter, who was only released from jail on January 30, told on Saturday there was nothing criminal about the family’s protest against what they called the "unjustified expropriation of land" by the government.

On the contrary, it was the government who had acted like “thugs”, she said.

“The officials told us if we don’t sign the agreement [to give up land], they will jail us one by one.” she said. “And they did.”

While Yao Baohua and Yao Qin were let out on bail, Yao’s wife, 74-year-old Liu Qinfeng, and their son remained locked up in a local detention centre. Family visits were forbidden, even during the Chinese New Year, when families traditionally get together. 

Yao said the local government’s strategy was to force them out.

“They are using my wife and son as hostages,” Yao said. “But I won't sign it - even if I have to die.”

The Yao family’s three-storied house, which they had built over the years on a collective land, stood alone in debris which used to be a former village in city’s booming Zhonggulou district. Other villagers had moved out after fruitless protests and a few confrontations with an aggressive demolition crew, the Yaos remained adamant about their cause.

While the government has proposed building new flats for villagers in the suburbs, Yao Qin said the family found the compensation terms unfair and refused to accept them.

“We will not sign the papers,” Yao Qin said. “We have nothing to fear - even powerful Gu Kailai was arrested for the murder she committed, and we believe justice will be served.“