CHINA: Imprisoned Christian Forced to Send Suspicious Letter

Aug 10, 2022 | VoM

After two years of denying correspondence and four years of preventing his family from meeting with him, imprisoned Chinese Christian Zhang Haitao recently sent his family a letter from prison. Zhang was sentenced to 19 years in prison by authorities for “probing and illegally supplying intelligence abroad” because he posted 69 WeChat messages and took 13 photos of the streets of Urumqi in an effort to promote freedom, democracy, and human rights.

Li Aijie, Zhang’s wife, issued a strong appeal on her Twitter account, requesting authorities to allow his family to meet with him and asking for international support.

The family last met with Zhang on 26 April 2018, in Xinjiang Shaya Prison. Since Zhang Haitao’s sister last met with him four years ago, the prison authorities have not allowed the family to meet or correspond with him.

In a letter to his family dated 27 June, Zhang Haitao wrote: “Everything has been good for me lately”, “no need to send money”, and “no need to come to visit”. He specifically mentioned the food he receives, writing, “food is good; there is beef, mutton, chicken, fish, steamed buns, rice, vegetables, fruit, eggs, milk, and many others”.

“Over the years, the standard of food has been increasing, the standard of living has been improving, and the level of education and health care has also been rising. [I] have enjoyed all these benefits and rights,” Zhang Haitao added to the letter.

His wife Li Aijie, who now resides in California, does not doubt that this is her husband’s own handwritten letter, but she raised questions on whether the content of his letter came from his own free will, saying “Since everything is fine and his life in prison is better than the life of people on the outside, why has the family not been allowed to meet him?”

Zhang’s words in the letter have caused her to worry whether he is being treated inhumanely in prison. “I seriously suspect that Zhang Haitao is being subjected to inhuman abuse and torture in prison!” She said.

Mr Meng Yuanxin, a pro-democracy activist who is knowledgeable about China’s prison environment, said that “on the norm, the [prison] food is usually very terrible”.

Li also stated that Zhang’s letter ended in an unusually bizarre way with the words: “Thank you to the Party, thank you to the country, thank you to the government!”

She said that her husband knows very well that he is innocent and was unjustly sentenced to 19 years for standing up for the human rights of Xinjiang people. She wondered how it would be possible for him to thank the Party, the country, and the government.

“After my sister and I visited him [four years ago] and confirmed that he was held in solitary confinement, forbidden to be released outdoors, I couldn’t imagine what little freedom he could still enjoy. It is heart-wrenching to think about that,” she shared.

As to whether the content of Zhang Haitao’s letter originated from his own free will, pro-democracy activist Meng said, “I am almost certain that in this kind of situation, it is written in advance by the police, and Zhang Haitao is forced to copy it down.”

After receiving the letter, the contents of which appear aimed at relieving the outside world’s concerns about the human rights situation and living conditions in the prison, Zhang’s family members have become disheartened. Li asked herself, “Under what circumstances did he write these words that were not of his own will?” She said it is “too horrible to contemplate”.

Source: ChinaAid

Please Pray

Pray for Zhang’s physical, mental and spiritual health as he serves this long sentence.

Pray for Zhang’s wife, Li Aijie, and the rest of his family. Pray that they will find hope and peace in the Lord.

Pray that pressure from the international community will provoke Zhang’s release.