China: Tortured legal assistant breaks silence on human rights crackdown

May 23, 2017

The youngest legal assistant arrested as part of a nationwide crackdown on human rights recently broke her silence to write an emotional letter to colleagues imprisoned with her, describing the enormous burden of the torture they endured and inviting them to join with her to end China’s abuses.

In the letter, Zhao Wei, a 26-year-old legal assistant arrested connection with the human rights crackdown known as the 709 case, describes her struggle to break through the fear and torture that defined her imprisonment in order to take her first steps into speaking out against injustice. She notes the resilient love of her parents, which prompted them to travel the nation to free her, explains her inability to win the fight for China’s freedom on her own, and encourages the activists who underwent similar experiences to stand with her.

Prior to her arrest, Zhao participated in numerous human rights movements, starting her social justice work after she graduated from Jiangxi Normal University’s journalism department. In October 2014, Christian human rights lawyer Li Heping hired her as his legal assistant. Both of them were taken from their homes in Beijing on July 10, 2015.

On Jan. 8, 2016, the Tianjin police formalized her arrest on charges of subverting the regime. After delivering what police called a “candid confession,” she was released on bail on July 7, 2016.


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