After 37 days in detention, Li Qiaochu, the girlfriend of Chinese pro-democracy activist Xu Zhiyong, was formally arrested by the Linyi City People’s Procuratorate in Shandong Province on Monday (March 15) on suspicion of “inciting subversion of state power” and is being held at Linyi City People’s Hospital East (a supervised hospital).
In response, many of Li Qiaochu’s friends have complained about her, arguing that in addition to being punished for Xu Zhiyong’s case, Li Qiaochu was also retaliated against by the Chinese Communist authorities for her courage in exposing corruption in Chinese prisons and breaking her silence to defend Xu Zhiyong and her dignity under the law. They say the authorities are holding Li Qiaochu in order to “silence” her from now on, and possibly make her a hostage to force Xu Zhiyong to confess his crimes.
Luo Shengchun, the wife of former human rights lawyer Ding Jiaxi, described the charges against Li Qiaochu and her unjust imprisonment as “incitement to subvert state power caused by a steamed bun.
A Steamed Bun of Subversion
Luo Shengchun, who is based in the United States, told VOA that she and Li Qiaochu have been working together for more than a year to expose the mistreatment of Ding Jiaxi and Xu Zhiyong, who were arrested in connection with the “12.26 Xiamen Party” case, through online platforms such as Twitter and Facebook, including the fact that they can only eat one steamed bun a day. She argues that this is a legal defense of their rights and that there is nothing illegal or criminal about it.
Before Li Qiaochu’s arrest in early February, she said, “Beijing police officers interviewed her eight times and found no reason to arrest her. Because she had done nothing, except for making her voice heard on the Internet, she had not committed any crime. So, they couldn’t find a reason to arrest her. But, surprisingly, just after the lawyer met with Xu Zhiyong, she sued the Linshu County Detention Center (in Linyi City, Shandong Province) for such naked corruption as harsh Food and high prices, and as a result, she was immediately arrested by them. This is clearly a naked retaliation.”
Li Qiaochu filed a formal complaint on February 2 of this year against the Linshu County Detention Center for the food being far below the national standard and the high price of meals, and also complained about the failure of the prosecutors stationed at the detention center to perform their supervisory duties, and her complaint was officially signed by the Linyi City People’s Procuratorate.
Public disclosure of torture in prison
Luo Shengchun said that on Feb. 5, the night before her arrest, Li Qiaochu stayed up late to compile the contents of Xu Zhiyong’s second meeting with his lawyer via video that day. At the Time, Li Qiaochu tweeted that Xu Zhiyong had been severely tortured during his transfer to Yantai, Shandong Province, at the end of April 2020, including being “strapped to an iron chair for more than a week every day for more than a dozen hours (since mid-May 2020). (Xu Zhiyong) was tied to an iron chair for more than ten hours a day for more than a week, with his limbs immobilized and struggling to breathe. During this period, he was also provided with a limited amount of water and only a small bun for each meal, so he was hungry and thirsty every day. When going back and forth to the cell, not only were black hoods worn, but also a heavy motorcycle helmet was put on Xu Zhiyong.”
Luo Shengchun said she believes the Linyi Public Security Bureau is particularly vindictive because when they exposed the illegal torture practices of “one steamed bun” earlier this year, the prison authorities intensified the persecution, including restricting both Xu Zhiyong and Ding Jiaxi from shopping during the Chinese New Year. She said the food provided by the prison was not only expensive, but also of poor quality. For example, the fruit Ding received was rotten, the salted duck eggs were particularly salty, and the preservatives in the meat were too heavy for Ding to swallow, and he was only allowed to take a half-hour break every day, with minimal activity. In addition, Luo Shengchun said, the prison cell each lock up 16-18 people, the basic hygiene conditions are extremely poor, coupled with, harsh food, long-term malnutrition so that Ding Jiaxi before the leg swelling caused by sitting on the tiger bench sequelae, still can not be healed.
Inconsistent Jurisdictional Imprisonment
She said that the authorities’ choice to imprison Xu Zhiyong, Ding Jiaxi and Li Qiaochu in Linyi is a jurisdictional violation, as all three are registered in Beijing and the “Xiamen party” took place in a place unrelated to Linyi.
In December 2019, Xu Zhiyong and Ding Jiaxi faced charges of “inciting subversion of state power” for attending a gathering in Xiamen that included 21 lawyers, scholars and citizens (the “Xiamen gathering”). Ding Jiaxi and citizens Dai Zhenya and Zhang Zhongshun were arrested in the month following the meeting, while Xu Zhiyong was arrested in Guangzhou in mid-February 2020 after months on the run. Li Qiaochu was Xu Zhiyong’s girlfriend, but did not participate in the “Xiamen meeting”. Li was summoned for 24 hours on Dec. 31, 2019, and with Xu’s arrest, she was “designated for detention” for four months from February to June last year, only to be “released on bail” in mid-June. She was released in mid-June.
Luo Shengchun asserted that the Chinese authorities are holding all three in Linyi, more than 600 kilometers away from Beijing, in order to cut off all contact with the outside world and to “torment” defense lawyers and Family members, creating all possible obstacles for them.
In addition to accusing the Linyi police of “shamelessness,” Luo Shengchun said that the CCP is now arresting even innocent people like Li Qiaochu and charging her with “inciting subversion of state power,” which is a major crime against national security. This shows the Chinese government’s recklessness in “arbitrary arrests”.
Arbitrariness of Power
She said: “The official approval of the arrest of Li Qiaochu’s house” releases the message: I am the government, who am I afraid of? If you say one word, I don’t want to hear, I don’t like to hear, I will lock you up, I will make you a charge of inciting the state to subvert the regime, and lock you up. So you can’t even see your lawyer, this is very, very vicious. I feel that I have to spare no effort to speak up for Chiaochu on this issue.”
Since her detention in early February, Li Chiaochu’s lawyer, Li Guobei, has applied for a meeting, but received an official “not approved” response in early March. As a result, even her lawyer has no information about why Li Qiaochu is currently being held at the Linyi People’s Hospital, her food and clothing, or the depression medication and care she needs.
The Voice of America called Li Guobei’s lawyer, but has not yet responded. According to Li Qiaochu’s friends, her lawyer and family may be concerned about Li Qiaochu’s treatment and safety in prison, and have expressed a desire to keep a low profile and not be interviewed.
In this regard, Luo Shengchun also said that Li Qiaochu’s lawyer and Parents are very low-profile and do not seem to want the outside world to speak out, especially to refuse solidarity from outside. She said she understands the anxiety and helplessness of the family in China.
Luo Shengchun said, “I think, this country, ugh! It’s horrible. I am now thinking that all the people are living in fear, living in, afraid to speak, being out of their depth, and just recognizing this status quo, and refusing foreign aid, refusing others to raise their voices for her, and it’s very scary.”
Since Li Chiaochu has been diagnosed with depression since mid-2019, there is now a high level of concern about whether Linyi prison authorities are regularly providing the medication and medical treatment Li Chiaochu needs, and the possible negative impact of the incarceration environment on her mental and physical condition.
Voice of America called Linyi Detention Center and the Public Security Bureau for information on Li Qiaochu’s current condition, but both declined to be interviewed, and the phone number provided by the Public Security Bureau for the Propaganda Department went unanswered several times.
Is he guilty of defending his rights according to the law?
In addition, two of Li’s friends said in an interview that in addition to revealing the torture suffered by Xu Zhiyong and not being tolerated by the authorities, Li has also been brave enough to disclose her illegal treatment over the Internet over the past year, which is likely to make the authorities feel “difficult” and eager to silence her.
A male friend of Li’s, who asked not to be named, said in an interview that Li’s insistence on speaking out since June last year had made it “tricky” for the authorities. He said she has been warned, threatened and even summoned for long periods of time by the authorities to stop her protest. During that time, the authorities also asked Li’s parents to keep her at Home or to stop her from speaking out in various ways, but Li has persisted in not giving in.
A male friend said, “She is just a brave, determined and also accumulates courage in her actions. Courage is not something you are born with, it is something that is slowly built up. The action of resistance is also a process of self-healing for her.”
In fact, Li Chiaochu’s courage was generated later in Life. She admitted in mid-2019 that she was a person who “hides when things go wrong,” but her experience in defending her rights and those of her political prisoner boyfriend, Xu Zhiyong, over the past year has helped her to develop persistence and courage.
Li Chiao-chu once wrote, “When I was summoned, when I was followed, when I was interviewed, when I was assigned to a prison cell, those experiences always taught me to grow and be strong.”
Self-healing through vocalization
Although she is aware that she is “weak and vulnerable” and may be imprisoned, Li Qiaochu has said that she has no fear and insists on not being a voiceless person, and calls on everyone to “break the silence and face their fears” in order to “maintain their dignity and She also called on everyone to “break the silence and face their fears” in order to “maintain their dignity and independence, and reduce the power to crush and harm individuals.”
She once wrote: “I am so lonely that I have to speak out, and so lonely that I may not be able to speak out again at any time, and then who else can take over? We should speak without evasion or trouble, but also speak of the details, the traumas and the weaknesses, the ones that are avoided and hidden, the very things they are afraid we will do.”
She also asked, “We are oppressed by the system, each of us has participated in building it in different ways, and yet we turn out to be powerless to even offer passive resistance. Our obedience allows those who actively work for the system to do whatever they want, and a space of evil is created; how can we escape it?”
Li’s male friends say that Li was verbally and physically humiliated during the four months she was “designated to live in prison. For example, she was forced to write confessions in “obedience” or was reprimanded for vomiting after meals due to emotional problems, and even begged for help. “. The friend said that these are the normal reactions of people at the moment, but for Li Qiaochu, the psychological humiliation she feels is particularly strong when she thinks about it afterwards, so Li Qiaochu must act through her voice afterwards, so that she can rebuild her dignity and a way of self-healing.
In an interview with the Voice of America, another female friend of Li Chiao-chu’s who wished to remain anonymous said that the accusations Li Chiao-chu faced were absurd because “she has taken legal channels of complaint or disclosure to claim for herself, to understand her situation, and to complain when her rights have been compromised.” The friend said Li’s approach to defending her rights is also very moderate and low-key, and she rarely accuses the Communist Party of “subverting the regime?”
China’s human rights crackdown escalates
The female friend said that even after her release from prison, those involved in the “Xiamen Party” case were kept quiet, and few dared to speak publicly about their treatment in prison or their cases.
She said Li’s arrest represents an expansion of the Chinese government’s crackdown on dissent and human rights activists.
She said, “The Chinese government’s strategy now is to not allow family members to speak out, to arrest them so that even family members cannot speak out, and no one else has the status to speak out, which is a pretty big chilling effect.”
Friends say Li Chiao-chu is known all because of her status as Xu Zhiyong’s girlfriend, but she is not an accessory to anyone. They say Li Chiaochu, 30, has been concerned about labor issues since college, is a researcher on labor issues and an active participant in feminist and civic movements. in 2017, when Beijing was cleaning up its low-end population, she also went into the community with other volunteers to pool information and help disadvantaged people find leads on employment and free accommodation. after 2018, Li Chiaochu’s involvement in opposing 966, as well as supporting MeToo and other civil spontaneous movements, among others, showing an independent female side.