I had the rare privilege of speaking directly with Anni and her father on a national internet radio program broadcast throughout China Saturday 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.
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.
For more information about Women's Rights Without Frontiers' work on behalf of the women and girls of China, check this link. www.womensrightswithoutfrontiers.org.