SAN FRANCISCO (January 26, 2018) – Veteran activist and writer Zhang Lin will arrive at New York’s JFK Airport on January 26, 2018. Zhang is being reunited with friends, including human rights activist Ms. Jing Zhang, and his daughters Anni and Ruli, who now reside in California. His daughters have been cared for by Ms. Reggie Littlejohn, a prominent women’s rights activist, and her husband. Ms. Littlejohn has worked tirelessly to bring about Zhang Lin’s release and safe passage to the United States.
The Anhui-based activist was detained on July 19, 2013 for organizing protests over Hefei authorities’ refusal to allow his youngest daughter, Anni, to attend a local school. Several prominent activists, including Xu Zhiyong, joined Zhang in protesting his daughter’s treatment. (Xu, a leading rights lawyer, completed his four-year sentence for gathering a crowd to disrupt a public place in June 2017.)
Zhang was also convicted of gathering a crowd to disrupt a public place and sentenced to three and a half years in prison in December 2013. His sentence was due to expire on January 18, 2017, but the remainder of his sentence was commuted on September 9, 2016 and he was released from Anhui’s Tongling Prison on the same day. Since then, he has resided in a government-provided apartment in his hometown of Bengbu, Anhui Province.
Now 54 years old, Zhang has been sentenced five times for his political activism, serving a total of more than 16 years in prisons and re-education through labor (RTL) camps. He has spent half of his adult life in carceral facilities. He was first detained for organizing a hunger strike in Bengbu in support of the Tiananmen protests of 1989. He was convicted of counterrevolutionary propaganda and incitement and sentenced to two years in prison with one year subsequent deprivation of political rights. After his release, Zhang continued his activism, serving three years in a RTL camp for hooliganism (August 1994 to August 1997), another three years in a RTL camp for illegal border crossing (October 1998 to October 2001), and five years for inciting subversion (February 2005 to February 2010).
The United States Department of State has monitored Zhang Lin’s case and frequently submitted lists of cases of concern with Zhang Lin’s name on them. The Dui Hua Foundation has also worked vigorously on Zhang Lin’s case. Its executive director John Kamm first intervened on Zhang’s behalf in 1995, and most recently intervened on his behalf on a trip to Beijing in January 2016.
“Dui Hua welcomes Mr. Zhang Lin’s arrival in the United States,” said John Kamm, Dui Hua’s executive director. “It looks forward to his positive contributions to human rights and democracy in the years ahead.”