Photo: Lawyer Tang Jitian’s recent photo (Xie Yanyi’s Twitter)
(Jilin, China—January 17, 2023) Prominent Chinese human rights lawyer Tang Jitian posted a message on his personal social media WeChat Moments on January 14, 398 days after he forcibly disappeared. In his post, Tang claimed he was released back to his hometown – Dunhua, Jilin province.
Tang Jitian, recently diagnosed with COVID-19, announced his release with the Chinese New Year approaching. “I was unjustly detained for 398 days,” he wrote, still infected and coughing:
“I hope to ring in the new year with my parents and then work hard to attend to matters that have been delayed for too long in proper order. The most important matter is to seek further medical care for my daughter.”
His daughter currently receives medical care in Japan while on life support due to complications from tuberculosis, which is affecting her brainstem.
Gratitude for support
Tang Jitian expressed his gratitude to the public for the support he received during the past year, especially during a period of great physical and mental stress. At one point, he suffered consequences due to the mounting pressure. He expressed, “I especially want to thank my friends for the amazing support they gave to my daughter and ex-wife during the days when I was not free!”
He also expressed “deep guilt, self-blame and remorse” for the harm he has intentionally or unintentionally caused to others in the past.
Unable to comment
Currently, it is difficult for Tang to accept interviews freely, for he is still under surveillance by the authorities.
Human rights lawyer Xie Yanyi called out to the government on Twitter: “I would like to tell all lawbreakers: harming the rights of others is harming one’s rights, and trampling on the dignity of others is trampling on one’s dignity! All choices have consequences.”
Tang Jitian used to be a prosecutor in China. After resigning, he actively participated in China’s human rights work. In 2010, the authorities revoked his license to practice law. During a protest movement in Beijing in 2011, he was suddenly taken and detained in a low-temperature room and was later diagnosed with pulmonary tuberculosis. He then went into hiding to avoid persecution and to recuperate from his condition.
In April 2021, Tang Jitian’s daughter, Zhengqi, who was studying abroad in Japan, suffered from meningitis caused by mycobacterium tuberculosis, invading her brain and injuring her brainstem. She has been in a coma since May 2021. According to available information, she has been in a vegetative state for more than a year. Her mother takes care of her in Japan.
Arrested before arriving in Japan
The Japanese authorities had granted him a special humanitarian visa. On June 2, 2021, Tang Jitian was about to go to Japan but was stopped by the Chinese police at the Fuzhou Airport in Fujian Province on the grounds of protecting national security and interests. On December 10 of the same year, he wanted to participate in the commemoration of Human Rights Day held by the European Union in Beijing. Still, he was secretly detained by the authorities and was put under house arrest by the Jilin National Security Police in a hotel in Jilin.
The reasons for the detention are unclear.
His medical complications
Tang Jitian’s sister revealed last year that Tang Jitian fell into a coma in early June, he fell and injured himself and developed headaches, high blood pressure, diabetes symptoms, blood in his stool, and his original tuberculosis lesions and other symptoms became worse due to lack of effective treatment and the abnormally harsh environment.
On June 12, 2022, activists in the United States launched a joint petition, calling on the Chinese government to release Tang Jitian. Zhou Fengsuo, President of Humanitarian China, Rev. Bob Fu, founder of ChinaAid, and hundreds of organization leaders and human rights activists in China participated in the joint signature.
~Gao Zhensai, Special Correspondent of ChinaAid