Calah Alexander: The power of a wife can change the world

Calah Alexander: The power of a wife can change the world

The Culture

The Chinese have two words for the collective punishment of families: lianzuo and zhulian. That’s how successful the practice is. Though many have tried to fight back against the ongoing human rights abuses in China, perhaps none have been as successful as the wives of imprisoned and tortured human rights lawyers. They have fought fiercely and publicly for their husbands, despite the the government’s increasingly desperate measures to silence them.

Their incredible story was the focus of a House subcommittee meeting last week. The New York Times details how these women are drawing attention to systematic government abuse, oppression, and coercion that have gone unchecked in China for years, and have culminated in a two-year government crackdown against their husbands.

“The story of the wives is one of the great stories of the whole crackdown — it is a brilliant adaptation by the activists to repression,” said Terence Halliday, a researcher at the American Bar Foundation in Chicago who has written a book on Chinese criminal defense lawyers. “My goodness, the attention they have brought to bear, not just for their husbands, but also the state of the crackdown.”

Chen Guiqiu, whose husband Xie Yang was arrested in the first wave of the crackdown, had always trusted the police. She even complied with their illegal requests, sure that her husband’s innocence and her silence would soon earn his freedom. It wasn’t until she was barred from taking her daughters on a trip to Hong Kong on the grounds that she was a “security risk” that she realized what was really going on — her husband wasn’t going to get tried fairly. The government already saw him as guilty, and his family as guilty by association.

So she took her daughters and fled. Chinese officials pursued them, all the way to the airport where U.S. embassy officials argued heatedly with Thai and Chinese officers over custody for hours, nearly coming to blows. She is still fighting for her husband from the U.S., despite his recent trial and conviction.

This article continues at [Aleteia] The power of a wife can change the world

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