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China:Ten-Year-Old Girl Detained, Starved

Posted by on 2013/04/14. Filed under China,Headline News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

Author: Ann Noonan,  Executive Director of the Committee for US International Broadcasting

HEFEI CITY, ANHUI PROVINCE.  February 27, 2013 began like any other school day for ten-year-old Zhang Anni.  Little did she know that this day she would be ordered to the principal’s office, whisked away by four unidentified men, and detained without food or water, and without knowing where her father was, for 7 hours.  Anni’s crime?  Her father, activist Zhang Lin, had exposed government corruption.

I had the rare privilege of speaking directly with Anni and her father on a national internet radio program broadcast (Boxun Radio) throughout China this evening.  Their story filled me with indignation. Anni has still not been allowed to return to school.  No legitimate government would detain, starve and deny education to a ten-year-old.

According to her father, their case has sparked national outrage in China.  500 people have dropped their jobs and traveled to demonstrate outside Anni’s former school, the Hupo Elementary School in Heifei.  Some protesters are hunger striking.  Zhang says he is deeply touched by the love and sacrifice of these supporters.

Those demonstrating are showing not only love for Zhang and Anni, but also the awakening of an increasingly bold contempt for the Chinese Communist Party’s brutal persecution of the children of dissidents.  Such persecution is routine in China.  Blind activist Chen Guangcheng’s son had to move away from his parents in order to go to school.  His daughter was only allowed to go to school after intense domestic and international pressure was applied.  Now, the Chinese Communist Party has detained and tortured Chen Guangcheng’s nephew, Chen Kegui.

I believe that the Chinese Communist Party persecutes, detains and tortures the families of dissidents in an attempt to silence them.  The CCP will commit serious human rights violations against children to stifle freedom of speech.  This is state-sponsored child abuse.

Activist Zhang Lin participated in the 1989 democracy protests in Anhui Province.  A prolific dissident writer, he has been jailed multiple times and subjected to continuous monitoring, according to an HRIC report.

Meanwhile, Anni was fearless and articulate in speaking with me on national radio.  Her father commented, “Anni is strong.  She’s been dealing with the police since she was two years old.  She knows how to handle them.”

What an extraordinary girl.  It was an honor to speak with her.  I told her, “Be brave, be true, be humble, and one day you will help lead your people to freedom.”

With 1.3 billion people living in China — one fifth of the population on earth — the world will not be free until the people of China are free.

Ann Noonan spoke in the program
My name is Ann Noonan and I am the Executive Director of the Committee for US International Broadcasting.  I met Zhang Lin in 1998 in New York City.  I remember that he was part of the Coalition for Pro-Democracy in China. On February 25, 1998, we held A Salute to Democracy in China and in New York Dinner.

New York City Former Mayor Ed Koch was the guest speaker, and many prestigious leaders attended. Among them were Laogai Research Foundation’s Harry Wu, and New York’s Central Labor Council former Secretary Ted Jacobsen.

Months later, we learned that Zhang Lin had returned to China and was arrested. In New York, we always refer to Zhang Lin  as a tireless freedom fighter.  When I served as the President of Free Church for China, we were sure to keep Zhang Lin’s profile in the public eye.

Most recently, we have learned that Zhang Lin’s daughter, Anni, has been singled out by China’s authorities.  She has been humiliated by authorities who removed her from her school, detained her at the local police station for many hours, and have not allowed her to return to school.

Like many Americans, I am deeply concerned that any child should be denied an education because of the actions or inactions of their parents.

We at the Committee for U.S. International  Broadcasting have been fighting for media freedom for journalists who report on stories like these and stories about human rights abuse.  When we recently learned that Voice of America radio broadcast services have been reduced using the excuse of sequestration, we raised our voices in Washington, DC and opposed any attempt to silence radio broadcasts to China.

We believe that radio broadcast resources are invaluable, especially for the poorer people who live in China and for those who live in the countryside, and we will continue fight for these broadcasts to be maintained by the Broadcasting Board of Governors, the US federal agency that has been trying to cut them, reduce them, and minimize their importance.  We will continue to appeal to the US Congress to maintain and expand these radio broadcasts to China.

I’d like to say “Hi!” to Zhang Lin’s daughter, Anni, and to let her and all of your listeners know that the Committee for U.S. International  Broadcasting hopes Anni’s story will be heard by girls and young women throughout the Untied States.  We believe they will give you great support and friendship.

I hope they let you go back to school so you can study and learn as much as you want, and when you are an educated woman, I hope you will be able to use these experiences to make your country and our world a safer place for children and families to live.

Zhang Lin: Do you feel that radio broadcasts continue to be a fundamental method of reporting about labor or human rights issues that would otherwise be censored on the internet?

Thank you.

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