Photo: New Citizens’ Movement activists Dr. Xu Zhiyong and lawyer Ding Jiaxi (ChinaAid source)
(Shandong province— March 16, 2023) Imprisoned human rights activist Ding Jiaxi met with his lawyer via video chat at the Public Security Bureau of Linshu County, Shandong Province. According to the lawyer’s report, the meals at the prison are of poor standards and cost less than $2 a day. The prison does not allow food delivery, either.
The scheduled meeting
Lawyer Peng Jian spoke with the staff of the Linshu County Detention Center in Shandong and confirmed March 9 as the meeting time with his client, Ding Jiaxi. On that afternoon, Peng routinely met with Ding Jiaxi at the provincial law enforcement and case-handling management center of Linshu County. He read letters to Ding Jiaxi, caught him up on recent news, and conveyed his friends’ greetings to him.
Ding Jiaxi’s routine
Peng Jian said that his client’s life pattern is, “wake up early every day, exercise for at least half an hour, take a cold shower at noon every day, start watching Shandong news and news broadcasts at 6:30 in the evening, and then sit in silence and meditate.”
Greetings to international friends
Mr. Ding expressed his gratitude to his friends through his lawyer, and he also specifically named pro-democracy activists Zhao Changqing and Wang Yonghong.
Meals in prison
Peng Jian pointed out the state of meals in prison: “The food is simple, and the government standard is RMB 10 [~$2] per day. The chief of the prison supervision unit spoke to him and said that they will not accept food, but he can purchase Centrum multivitamins on his behalf.” Peng Jian believes that his communication with the police played a role in this special treatment of his client.
Allowances to inmates
Because the prison can only deposit money through a select few personnel, at present, Dr. Xu Zhiyong’s sister, Xu Zhiyu, can transfer living allowances to Xu Zhiyong, who is also serving a sentence in the same prison.
Many visits with Ding Jiaxi
Ding hopes to have some communication with the outside world through his meetings with the lawyer. Lawyer Peng Jian said: “Lao Ding still hopes that I can chat with him.” Even though the meeting is at a designated address and requires him to take the high-speed rail, sleep overnight on the rail, or drive a long distance to meet Mr. Ding, he still thinks “it is all worth it.” He expressed: “Mr. Ding’s pre-trial detention period is too long. The lawyer’s meeting takes far more time than reviewing time-consuming documents and written materials. Generally, lawyers in criminal cases spend more time reviewing files and writing documents, and they don’t meet many times.” Mr. Ding is an exception.
Translator’s note on Lao Ding: In the Chinese Language, adding Lao, literal translation – old, in front of a person’s name is used as a term of endearment and expresses a close relationship between the persons.
Ding Jiaxi’s health
In the previous online video meeting on February 17, lawyer Peng Jian revealed that Ding’s beard had turned white, he was much older, he often felt unwell, and he wanted supplement multivitamins. Optimistic about his health, Ding insists on exercising hard every day.
Ding Jiaxi and a dozen other human rights activists attended a private gathering in the Xiamen city of Fujian in December 2019 to discuss human rights issues in China and the ongoing pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong at that time. Following this gathering, the attendees were subjected to a nationwide crackdown. Since then, Ding has been tortured several times and barred from meeting with a lawyer.
New avenues for his release
More than three years into his detention, Chinese authorities have still not delivered a verdict, forcing his wife, Ms. Luo Shengchun (Sophie), who has settled in the United States, to seek different avenues to challenge the wrongful imprisonment of her husband by the Chinese government.
His wife’s advocacy
Luo Shengchun publicly stated: “On June 22 and 24, 2022, Zhiyong and Jiaxi were tried in secret by the Linshu County People’s Court of Shandong province. Lawyers were forced to sign a confidentiality agreement and were not allowed to release information to the outside world. Family members were intercepted and not allowed to come near the premises of the court. The lawyer’s application to subpoena witnesses to appear in court and to exclude illegal evidence was rejected. At present, both of them have been detained for more than three years and have been subjected to torture and abuse.”
Ding and Dr. Xu Zhiyong
Ding Jiaxi and Dr. Xu Zhiyong launched a civic movement called the “New Citizens’ Movement” and advocated civil rights. More than ten years ago, they jointly advocated for a series of public welfare activities such as property disclosure of officials, equal education rights for children of migrant workers such as allowing them to sit for the National College Entrance Examinations in the city they currently reside and not where they have their household registration; and “Sanlu Dairy Group’s toxic infant milk formula compensation.” Mr. Ding’s case trial has already been completed, but the court controlled by the Chinese Communist Party has delayed the pronouncing of the verdict for a long time.
~Gao Zhensai, Special Correspondent of ChinaAid