But Pu Wenqiang might beg to differ – especially right now.
Pu is the octogenarian mother of veteran activist Huang Qi. Pu suffers from diabetes and lung cancer, conditions likely worsened by the years of harassment she has endured from local authorities over her son’s work. In just the past few days, she has sought hospital care and indicated that she does not expect to live much longer.
But Pu wants to see her son before she dies. In a recent letter titled “Last Words by Huang Qi’s Mother” she wrote “My purpose is just to see Huang Qi. I want to know, what is his situation in prison? How is his health? How is he treated?”
Huang Qi is the founder of a website dedicated to publicizing human rights abuses across China. He previously served eight years in prison stemming from his investigation into shoddy construction that contributed to the collapse of schools in the 2008 Sichuan earthquake.
In July 2019, a court in Sichuan province announced a 12-year prison sentence for Huang, alleging he had “deliberately leaked state secrets” and “illegally provided state secrets abroad.” The prosecution of both these cases was riddled with procedural problems and allegations of torture and mistreatment. Huang is reportedly gravely ill in detention.
Pu has campaigned tirelessly for her son’s release, for proper medical attention in prison, and for him to be represented by lawyers of his choice. She has committed no crimes, yet the Sichuan authorities have subjected her to relentless harassment. In November 2018, she wrote “If I am missing, injured, disabled, or dead, the entire responsibility should be borne by the authorities.”
In her recent letter, Pu said authorities’ surveillance of her is “very serious.” Government minders follow her wherever she goes, prohibit her from leaving the city, and keep her from speaking to the media or meeting lawyers.
Chinese authorities should end their breathtaking cruelty towards Pu Wenqiang before it’s too late.