|L-R: Rep Chris Smith, R-N.J., with Li
Heping on Oct. 12, 2005, during Li’s
visit to the U.S. (Photo: China Aid)
Translated by Carolyn Song. Edited in English by Ava Collins.
(Beijing—Jan. 15, 2016) The wife of a Christian human rights lawyer wrote a Christmas letter about her hopes for the future and the happiness she has found even in the midst of her husband’s situation.
Li Heping disappeared into police custody on July 10 during a widespread crackdown on human rights lawyers across China.
The letter from Li’s wife, Wang Qiaoling, titled “Happiness Never Left Me Behind,” echoes another letter by she released in November, “Leaving Fear Behind.” The full text, can be found below.
Written to my friends on Christmas 2015
December 25, 2015
If CCTV interviews me (though CCTV and I bear grudges against one another, haha), asking if I am happy, I must tell the truth: I’m happy! I’m not saying that ironically, I sincerely feel happy.
A couple days ago, lawyer Wang Quanzhang’s son had his three-year-old birthday party, and we took a group photo. Today I saw that photo, and I am so ashamed. There is no sign to tell that we are the wives of “missing husbands.” We are full of joy, hope, and gratitude—in a word: happy!
In July and August, I had two months full of pain and suffering, nervousness and fright. Gradually, I understood something more and more. Borrowing words from my 80-year old Christian grandma: Do not be afraid of them. They should be afraid of you!
I remember the moment when my heart took this turn. Previously, Heping’s friends, colleagues and the people he used to represent called me to express their concern. I was very surprised (I thought people would alienate me). Later, a friend said that when Heping was defending Yang Zili, there were, in fact, four defendants. Though he was a man, he said: “At that time, tears were streaming down my face.” I knew my friend was framed and the victim of a miscarriage of justice because the witness in that case later went overseas and said in a statement that he was forced to commit perjury.
When my friend finished his sentence, my tears flowed, too. Twelve years ago, almost no lawyers dared defend such cases. Heping took this case because he read the article “My Peasant Mother” by Yang Zili. He was reading with tears streaming, and when he met with the Yang Zili’s family, he took the initiative to represent the case. This is too great a miscarriage of justice. I don’t need to say much about whether this case is just or unjust. Now the cases of injustice are so numerous that anytime I hear that a there has been a break in a big case, I frankly doubt whether it was a true break or whether the so-called suspects confessed to the false charges due to torture—another miscarriage of justice that remains after ten years.
I shed tears because I’d never heard the details of that case from Heping. My friend said the words Heping wrote in the defense were very touching. My heart was filled with guilt. Yang Zili’s case file was just in our bookcase, but I had never thought to look at the plea written by my husband, Li Heping. But on July 10, when the house was searched, all the files were confiscated. Now I would like to look at them, but I don’t know where I could find them.
I found, in guilt, that my husband has such a sense of justice and compassion.
A few years ago, while I was shopping at the supermarket very close to my home, an elderly person fell down the stairs to the ground, just in front of me. I instinctively stepped forward to help him. Seeing this, a man next to me hurried over to help him, too. The elderly person got up and nothing else happened. Later, I thought of many elderly people falling for blackmail, and decided that if there is a next time, I will help. This is because I know God exists, and before God and man, I should live without ignoring my conscience. I feel that Heping handles everything instinctively, according to what he understands and knows what he has to help those who fall down.
After July 9, what I have found is not my husband’s stained misdeeds, but his integrity and mercy. From this perspective, I am very happy.
If the elite in China, whether officials or lawyers, will permit me to tell the truth, I think I am very happy to be married to Li Heping, the lost human rights lawyer. Because those senior officials will one day be behind bars and their mountains of jewels will be on the outside, along with their flocks of mistresses. To be honest, I would rather have food and clothing and a husband living under the government’s high-powered microscope of surveillance: he only has one wife. From this perspective, I am also very happy.
If I talk with the children about their father in the future, no matter how much effort CCTV puts into discrediting him, they will never wipe away the brilliance of my husband from the hearts of his children and his wife. By way of analogy, my son and daughter can understand what is right and wrong. Like [the feeling one experiences when] an elderly person falls down in the street, their father instinctively felt pity and tried to help, but officials do not allow others to help. Their father insisted [on doing what is right]; the official arrested him. This analogy is so simple that a child can tell good and evil, right and wrong. Never will we avoid justice and mercy, simply because there is evil. Our children can see this [truth] through our difficulty; I understand their father gradually. Such love between parents is the greatest love for children. Can anyone say that we are not happy?
Heping has never been perfect; he is just a person of ordinary conscience. My happiness is having found the charm of a clean conscience. So, I say I am happy, and happiness never left me behind and will always be on my side.
Lawyer Li Heping’s wife, Wang Qiaoling