US Resident Asks UN Human Rights Chief Visiting China to Confirm Her Jailed Husband is Alive in Xinjiang

A Californian resident has urged UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet, who is visiting China, to help ascertain if her husband, who is under a 19-year prison term for his rights speech, is still alive after four years of  being denied visitation, correspondence, and phone calls.Jenny Li, a Hayward-based resident, wrote to Bachelet on May 26 asking her to urgently verify that her imprisoned husband Zhang Haitao, a 51-year-old human rights advocate, is still alive, while she is in China. “I desperately hope that you can help me to let me know whether my husband is alive or dead, whether he was tortured inside and whether he is healthy or not,” Li wrote in her letter to the UN official. “If possible, please visit him at Shaya Prison in Xinjiang.” Zhang was initially held in Shaya Prison, Aksu, in the Chinese western region of Xinjiang, according to a notice of admission issued by the prison authorities, which his wife showed The Epoch Times. However, it has been 49 months since the guards blocked her and Zhang’s lawyer from meeting or contacting him using a variety of excuses. In the letter to the UN commissioner, Zhang’s wife expressed how she and her young son Joseph miss him every day. “We are desperate for your help. Please understand the hearts of a wife and a child!” Li told The Epoch Times that her 6-year-old son is eager for love and care from his father, whom he has never seen since his birth. “I was barely in the third month of pregnancy when my husband was taken away by police,” she said. Zhang’s sister Zhang Qingzhen, who lives in China, also wrote a letter to the UN human rights chief, calling for attention to her jailed brother. Speaking of the UN official’s visit to China, Li was doubtful about the odds of her traveling to a Chinese prison. “I believe the Chinese government would restrict her access to ‘re-education’ camps [in Xinjiang] and block her from investigating China’s human rights situation,” Li said. Observers and human rights groups warn that the Chinese regime may use Michelle Bachelet’s visit to whitewash its human rights abuses. Beijing Should Release Zhang Haitao Immediately: UN WGAD “Looking at what my husband has suffered,” she added, “you may get a glimpse of the whole situation of China’s human rights.” According to Li, a Xinjiang court sentenced her husband to a 19-year term on charges of inciting subversion of state power and providing intelligence to foreign groups, based on Zhang’s 69 posts on WeChat and 205 posts on Twitter advocating for human rights and acceptance of interviews from foreign media outlets. In March 2022, Li referred her husband’s case to the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD).  The WGAD replied that it believed that the Chinese government’s deprivation of Zhang Haitao’s freedoms violated many provisions of the International Declaration of Human Rights, and the Chinese government should release Zhang Haitao immediately. Li said she and her son Joseph fled to the United States at the end of 2017. Chinese prisoner of conscience Zhang Haitao’s wife Jenny Li and their 6-year-old son Joseph Zhang in Hayward, California, on May 27, 2022. (Courtesy of Jenny Li) The communist Chinese regime has consistently denied allegations of human rights violations. Rather, it takes every opportunity to paint China as a nation committed to protecting and promoting civil liberties and rights. During Bachelet’s visit, Chinese state media outlets claim she said, “I admire China’s efforts and achievements in eradicating poverty, protecting human rights, and realizing economic and social development.” However, such compliments were challenged by the UN spokeswoman Elizabeth Throssell, according to the Guardian. Throssell said the Chinese side misquoted Bachelet’s words. The UN human rights chief’s exact wording was “I look forward to deepening our discussions on these and other issues, and hope my Office can accompany to strengthen the promotion and protection of human rights, justice and the rule of law for all without exception.” Days ago, hackers leaked thousands of photos and other internal documents revealing the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) detention and torture of Uyghur Muslims and sent them to Adrian Zenz, Director and Senior Fellow in China Studies at the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation in Washington. The documents are believed to be the latest proof of the CCP’s human rights abuses in China. The UN official’s 6-day visit is scheduled to end on May 28. Shaya Prison could not be reached for comment by press time. Follow Frank Yue is a Canada-based journalist for The Epoch Times who covers China-related news. He also holds an M.A. in English language and literature from Tianjin Foreign Studies University, China.

US Resident Asks UN Human Rights Chief Visiting China to Confirm Her Jailed Husband is Alive in Xinjiang

A Californian resident has urged UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet, who is visiting China, to help ascertain if her husband, who is under a 19-year prison term for his rights speech, is still alive after four years of  being denied visitation, correspondence, and phone calls.

Jenny Li, a Hayward-based resident, wrote to Bachelet on May 26 asking her to urgently verify that her imprisoned husband Zhang Haitao, a 51-year-old human rights advocate, is still alive, while she is in China.

“I desperately hope that you can help me to let me know whether my husband is alive or dead, whether he was tortured inside and whether he is healthy or not,” Li wrote in her letter to the UN official. “If possible, please visit him at Shaya Prison in Xinjiang.”

Zhang was initially held in Shaya Prison, Aksu, in the Chinese western region of Xinjiang, according to a notice of admission issued by the prison authorities, which his wife showed The Epoch Times. However, it has been 49 months since the guards blocked her and Zhang’s lawyer from meeting or contacting him using a variety of excuses.

In the letter to the UN commissioner, Zhang’s wife expressed how she and her young son Joseph miss him every day. “We are desperate for your help. Please understand the hearts of a wife and a child!”

Li told The Epoch Times that her 6-year-old son is eager for love and care from his father, whom he has never seen since his birth. “I was barely in the third month of pregnancy when my husband was taken away by police,” she said.

Zhang’s sister Zhang Qingzhen, who lives in China, also wrote a letter to the UN human rights chief, calling for attention to her jailed brother.

Speaking of the UN official’s visit to China, Li was doubtful about the odds of her traveling to a Chinese prison. “I believe the Chinese government would restrict her access to ‘re-education’ camps [in Xinjiang] and block her from investigating China’s human rights situation,” Li said.

Observers and human rights groups warn that the Chinese regime may use Michelle Bachelet’s visit to whitewash its human rights abuses.

Beijing Should Release Zhang Haitao Immediately: UN WGAD

“Looking at what my husband has suffered,” she added, “you may get a glimpse of the whole situation of China’s human rights.”

According to Li, a Xinjiang court sentenced her husband to a 19-year term on charges of inciting subversion of state power and providing intelligence to foreign groups, based on Zhang’s 69 posts on WeChat and 205 posts on Twitter advocating for human rights and acceptance of interviews from foreign media outlets.

In March 2022, Li referred her husband’s case to the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD).  The WGAD replied that it believed that the Chinese government’s deprivation of Zhang Haitao’s freedoms violated many provisions of the International Declaration of Human Rights, and the Chinese government should release Zhang Haitao immediately.

Li said she and her son Joseph fled to the United States at the end of 2017.

Epoch Times Photo
Chinese prisoner of conscience Zhang Haitao’s wife Jenny Li and their 6-year-old son Joseph Zhang in Hayward, California, on May 27, 2022. (Courtesy of Jenny Li)

The communist Chinese regime has consistently denied allegations of human rights violations. Rather, it takes every opportunity to paint China as a nation committed to protecting and promoting civil liberties and rights.

During Bachelet’s visit, Chinese state media outlets claim she said, “I admire China’s efforts and achievements in eradicating poverty, protecting human rights, and realizing economic and social development.”

However, such compliments were challenged by the UN spokeswoman Elizabeth Throssell, according to the Guardian. Throssell said the Chinese side misquoted Bachelet’s words. The UN human rights chief’s exact wording was “I look forward to deepening our discussions on these and other issues, and hope my Office can accompany to strengthen the promotion and protection of human rights, justice and the rule of law for all without exception.”

Days ago, hackers leaked thousands of photos and other internal documents revealing the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) detention and torture of Uyghur Muslims and sent them to Adrian Zenz, Director and Senior Fellow in China Studies at the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation in Washington. The documents are believed to be the latest proof of the CCP’s human rights abuses in China.

The UN official’s 6-day visit is scheduled to end on May 28.

Shaya Prison could not be reached for comment by press time.


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Frank Yue is a Canada-based journalist for The Epoch Times who covers China-related news. He also holds an M.A. in English language and literature from Tianjin Foreign Studies University, China.