(Zhejiang, China – November 14, 2023) Prominent pro-democracy activist Zhu Yufu from Zhejiang was arrested by Chinese border guards at the China-Vietnam border. He suffered sudden illnesses while in custody, but the police deliberately neglected his conditions. His relatives abroad have publicly called on the Zhejiang authorities to allow him to leave the country on humanitarian grounds and visit his terminally ill sister in Japan.
In the five years since his release, pro-democracy activist Zhu Yufu from Zhejiang has remained a low profile, declining media interviews and refraining from writing articles advocating for democracy. He hoped to avoid further confrontation with the Communist Party of China’s taboo on discussions about democratic politics. However, Zhu has endured years of restricted freedom. He had planned to visit his terminally ill sister with late-stage lung cancer in Sasebo, Kyushu, Japan, but authorities stopped him from doing so in March of this year.
In a statement released on the 6th by Zhu’s five relatives living abroad, in recent days, he learned that his sister Zhu Yanmin, who resides in Japan, has been discontinued of all medications and has entered the terminal stage of cancer care. The authorities have been restricting Zhu Yufu from leaving, his greatest wish is to visit his sister who is critically ill in Japan. Driven by desperation, the 71-year-old planned to cross the China-Vietnam border, only to be apprehended by the Ningming Border Management Brigade in Chongzuo City, Guangxi Province, just a few kilometers away from the border.
Zhu was detained in a “small dark room” for two days, where he was subjected to inhumane treatment. Due to his high risk of heart conditions and high blood pressure, he attempted to take his Suxiao Jiuxin pills. But a Chinese police officer (badge number 220761) forcibly took the pills from him, claiming to inspect their authenticity. After more than twenty minutes, Zhu began to have difficulties breathing. He started desperately banging on the door for help, and only then did another officer return his medication. His symptoms were alleviated after taking them.
After being detained for two days in the small, dark room, Zhu Yufu was brought back to Hangzhou by Zhejiang police; he is currently being held at his residence, which is under 24-hour surveillance by officers from the Hangzhou Public Security Bureau. Visits from friends are restricted.
Zhu Yufu’s five relatives living abroad revealed in their statement, that because the Guangxi police seized Zhu’s cell phone and has not yet returned it to him, it has caused significant distress to his life. He is not able to pay for the utilities for which he has received bills, and the resulting late fees or disconnection of water and electricity can put a seventy-something-year-old man, deprived of his pension benefits, in a difficult situation.
In the statement, Zhu Yufu’s relatives living abroad expressed concerns for him. They earnestly appealed to the relevant authorities in Zhejiang to understand the situation from a humanitarian perspective — the sibling bond between a brother who raised his sister who is currently facing a life-and-death situation. They requested the authorities to promptly restore Zhu Yufu’s right to a peaceful senior life, as any elderly person rightfully deserves.
Zhu Yufu was one of the initiators of the “Democracy Wall Movement” in Hangzhou in the 1970s. In the 1990s, he was imprisoned for seven years for distributing the “Open Declaration of the Establishment of the Chinese Democratic Party (CDP) Zhejiang Preparatory Committee.” Subsequently, the authorities launched a comprehensive crackdown on the party. In 2007, Zhu Yufu’s son, Zhu Yin, was interrogated and assaulted by police and state security personnel. When Zhu Yufu intervened to prevent a conflict with the police, he was imprisoned for two years on charges of “obstructing official duties.”
In 2012, Zhu was convicted of “subversion of state power” and sentenced to seven years in prison for writing the poem “It’s Time” in 2011, which called on people to embrace freedom. This vague charge is often used by the authorities to imprison those who condemn the evils of the times.
Without pleading guilty to the charges, Zhu Yufu has been sentenced three times, totaling 17 years. It was only on March 3, 2021, that his political rights were restored. The Zhejiang government should respect his legal status as a Chinese citizen and should not restrict his personal freedom of movement.