By Jiawei Liu
Dozens of Chinese rights lawyers and concerned citizens have protested this week after it was revealed that Zhang Anni, a 10 year old girl living in Anhui province, had been denied schooling, allegedly because her father is a pro-democracy activist.
According to the Evening Sun:
The protesters are urging the school to allow Anni to resume lessons, saying the child should not be denied an education because of her father’s activism.
Zhang Lin, the father of Zhang Anni, participated in 1989 student-led democracy protests in his hometown of Bengbu in Anhui province. He has been jailed four times, most recently in 2005 for inciting to subvert state power, a vaguely worded charge often used to punish critics.
Zhang said he and his daughter returned to Hefei on Sunday but the school refused to readmit Anni and its principal told him they were worried they could not guarantee her safety.
A letter written on behalf of Anni by a supporter has been circulated online. It is addressed to Peng Liyuan, the popular wife of new Chinese President Xi Jinping, and said: “Grandma Peng, I very much want to go back to school to study. Can you and Grandpa Xi please tell the police and teachers to allow me back to school?”
Zhang’s case has taken on an unlikely cross-straits element, as Hung Chih-kun, a member of the central executive committee of Taiwan’s Democratic Progressive Party, has joined the debate.
South China Morning Post reports:
Hung told the South China Morning Post he had talked to long-term democracy activist Zhang Lin and that he would make an effort to spread word of Zhang’s case internationally.
“I, this ‘foreign force’, have become a ‘foreign ambassador’,” he wrote on Friday. Hung told the Post he had offered to help Zhang’s daughter Anni find a school in Taiwan.
“I would be very happy to if Anni could go to school to Taiwan”, activist Zhang told the Post. He said he worried that the process of getting her there would be too lengthy and added that he was aware Hung wasn’t speaking for the Taiwanese government.
Zhang Lin tweeted on Sina Weibo that “it seems impossible and too hard to let Anni find a school in Taiwan.”
Unsurprisingly, both sets of tweets have since been blocked on Weibo.