June 9, 2011 - Updated on January 20, 2016

Hu Jia’s wife, Zeng Jinyan, threatened with eviction

Reporters Without Borders is appalled by the Chinese government’s utterly unacceptable persecution of Zeng Jinyan, the wife of the jailed cyber-dissident Hu Jia and herself a blogger who defends human rights. Zeng, who is bringing up their 3-year-old daughter alone, reported on Twitter yesterday that the authorities are pressuring the owner of her rented apartment in the southern city of Shenzhen to evict her. She has been under close surveillance ever since her husband’s arrest in December 2007. “We are outraged by the government’s harassment of Zeng Jinyan, an emblematic figure in the struggle for human rights in China,” Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Jean-François Julliard said. “By treating the 2008 Sakharov laureate’s wife and daughter in such a despicable manner, the Chinese government is showing its contempt for the European Union and the values it defends.” Julliard added: “We support the condemnation expressed by Jerzy Buzek, the president of the European Parliament, and we urge the European Commission and its vice-president, Catherine Ashton, the European Union’s high representative for foreign affairs, to do the same. We demand that the Chinese authorities put a stop to this policy of hounding Zeng.” Zeng is threatened with eviction from the Shenzhen home to which she moved with her daughter in April, following permanent harassment and surveillance by the police who were stationed outside her apartment in Beijing. The move was motivated in part by the desire to avoid the possibility of house arrest after her husband’s release, which is due to take place on 26 June. Referring to the eviction threats, Zeng wrote on her Twitter account on 8 June: “The landlords had been forced to end a rental contract. I’ve received physical threats. How many times will we have to move? I know this won’t be the last time.” In another post the same day, she referred to the other forms of harassment to which she is subjected: “If I try to find a job, they threaten my boss. If I try to work with someone, they threaten my partner.” In early December 2007, Reporters Without Borders awarded a special “China” prize to Hu and Zeng for the way they way they were managing – despite being under house arrest – to inform the world about the negative impact that preparations for the 2008 Beijing Olympics were having on the Chinese population. A campaigner on behalf of AIDS sufferers, the environment and free speech, Hu was arrested three weeks later and was sentenced on 3 April 2008 to three and a half years in prison on a charge of inciting subversion of state authority. Zeng and her then four-month-old daughter were meanwhile place under residential surveillance. The European Parliament awarded its Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought to Hu in October 2008.