In my recent blog “Lock Up and Lock Down” about crackdowns on dissidents and activists during the Two Meetings, I mentioned an incident about a ten-year-old girl whose father is a dissident in Hefei, Anhui (安徽合肥):
“In a particularly egregious episode of this year’s clamping down on dissidents, on February 27 in Hefei, Anhui (安徽合肥), four men kidnapped Zhang Anni (张安妮), the 10-year-old daughter of Zhang Lin (张林), after the school let out, and took her to the local police station. There she was detained for 20 hours without being given food or water, or even a blanket to stay warm. Later, the police also searched Zhang Lin’s home, taking away his computer, cell phone, cash, and other important necessities. The father and daughter have since been deported to Bengpu (蚌埠) where Anni, scared and refusing to talk for days, has no school to go for the time being.
“A Tsinghua-trained nuclear physicist, Zhang Lin is a veteran dissident who has served three prison terms since the 1980s, totaling 13 years.”
Anni (安妮) still has not been able to go back to school. Before the Two Meetings, Zhang Lin lived in Hefei where Anni went to Hupo Elementary School (琥珀小学) and Anni’s older sister attends college in the same city. For Zhang Lin, a single father now (I believe), Hefei is where he wants to live to be close to both children, but he has been repeatedly forced out of the city and back to Bengbu (安徽蚌埠), his hometown. For Anni, she has made it clear to her dad that she wants to go back to Hupo ES because “there are only 23 kids in my class!” (the typical class size in China is twice as big.)
Monday, in an action called “Sending Anni Back to School,” 40 some lawyers and netizens from across China arrived in Hefei to protest on behalf of Anni, demanding that the child be allowed to resume school in Hupo ES. The school’s representative came out on Monday telling the father to go to the “relevant organ” to get a guarantee that the child will never be taken away from school by unidentified people. Today the school said that Zhang Anni does not meet the requirements for enrollment.
The crowd protested in front of various government sites in Hefei, including the Public Security Bureau and the Education Bureau, but no one has come out to speak to them except for scores of plain clothes and uniformed policemen watching over the crowd, videoing taping them, getting into a couple of scuffles with them, and taking some to police stations to interrogate.
Having no place to turn, Anni wrote a letter today to Peng Liyuan, China’s first lady, appealing for help:
“Grandma Peng, how do you do? I’m a student at Hupo Elementary School in Hefei, Anhui. I’m ten years old. In the afternoon on February 27 this year, several policemen came to my school and took me away. A few days ago, many uncles and aunties who are concerned about me wanted to send me back to school, but the teachers in my school won’t let me. Grandma Peng, I really want to go back to school. Please, can you and Grandpa Xi tell uncle policemen and the teachers to let me go back? Zhang Anni, April 10, 2013.”
The letter is a hot topic on Tencent Weibo and has been re-posted many times.
Will Grandma Peng hear Anni and help her out? We shall see. Meanwhile, I’ll let out a deep sigh: China Dream.