We've given up all hope: Chinese activist ends campaign to send daughter to school

PUBLISHED : Friday, 19 April, 2013, 10:29am
UPDATED : Thursday, 29 August, 2013, 4:13am

Zhang Lin, a long-time activist in Anhui, has given in and ended a campaign against a local government decision barring his 10-year-old daughter from attending school because of his political background.

"We have given up all hope of getting her back to school in Hupo," he said. "It's very sad, but we need to give in so the people who are still detained are released."

An unknown number of participants in his campaign had been detained. But Zhang says there were probably at least 20. Police have ended a nine-day protest outside the school his daughter Anni was barred from attending in the Anhui provincial capital.

The 50-year-old democracy activist, who has spent years in labour camps and in jail, had been living in the Hupo district of Hefei to be close to his other daughter, a university student in the city. On February 25, he and Anni were detained by state security officials and forcibly relocated to his childhood hometown Bengbu, a two-hours drive north from Hefei.

The refusal of Hupo School to re-admit Anni has caused outrage among netizens and photos of people calling for her release on banners went viral on microblogs, despite frequent deletions by online censors. Zhang Lin's weibo accounts have repeatedly been deleted.

A letter written by Anni asking the country's First Lady Peng Liyuan for help appeared online last week. Dozens of people gathered in Hefei to protest against the schools decision, some sleeping in tents outside the school and some even went on hunger strike. 

On April 16, authorities cracked down on the protest. Nine people were arrested outside the school. A dozen more people, including Zhang Lin, were arrested at a hotel. He and his daughter have since been deported to Bengbu.

All but five of those arrested have been released, Zhang said when reached on the phone in the early morning on Friday, just before his three minders started work.

He said he hoped the five people still detained would be released now he has given in to the authorities' demands and agreed to stay away from Hefei.

"I try very hard to explain to Anni why all this is happening. She doesn't understand why we have to constantly move," he said. "She also doesn't understand why all these people get arrested, I try to explain it, but it's difficult."

Zhang said he is now staying with friends. He will soon look for a job, the trained nuclear physicist said, "whatever allows me to support my two daughters."

Harassment of dissidents' family relatives is nothing new in China. Nobel Peace Price laureate Liu Xiaobo's brother-in-law of  is due to stand trial next week on fraud charges. If convicted, he is facing 14 years in prison.