BBG Watch Commentary

BBG Watch Marks Human Rights Day by sharing an open letter written by the daughters of Chinese Dissident Zhang Lin to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and world leaders.

BBG Watch often reports on activities of members of the Committee for U.S. International Broadcasting (CUSIB –, an independent NGO. Many of CUSIB members are helping families of imprisoned journalists and human rights activists. BBG Watch reported a CUSIB member, Reggie Littlejohn, Founder and President of Women’s Rights Without Frontiers, has welcomed the Ruli and Anni, the daughters of Chinese dissident Zhang Lin, to live with her in California.

CUSIB members are also encouraging the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) to reform and strengthen dissemination of news, information and opinions to nations without free media. They have opened up a dialogue with new BBG Chairman Jeff Shell and BBG members. These activities contribute to strengthening media freedom and human rights worldwide.

While CUSIB’s relentless efforts helped to convince the BBG Board to re-hire some of the Radio Liberty journalists in Russia who were improperly fired by the previous management of Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), BBG Watch has also helped publicize this issue with its media outreach.

BBG Watch supports brave RFE/RL and Voice of America (VOA) journalists as they report on pro-Europe protests in Ukraine. RFE/RL and VOA Ukrainian services have done an excellent job of covering historic events in Ukraine. But we also remain deeply concerned by management failures to arrange for adequate coverage of numerous human rights-related news stories by VOA central English Newsroom, VOA English news website, and VOA language services that must rely on VOA’s failing central news output.

While many of BBG’s surrogate media services are doing outstanding work in reporting on human rights issues, much more can be done in covering U.S.-related human rights news, especially by the Voice of America, which has suffered from years of managerial neglect and diversion of funding by the BBG’s International Broadcasting Bureau (IBB) from programming to non-programming activities and jobs.

To highlight the importance of VOA and U.S. surrogate media outreach, BBG Watch marks Human Rights Day with the publication of a powerful appeal for justice.

BBG Watch has received a copy of the open letter written by 19-year old Zhang Ruli on behalf of herself and her 11-year old sister, Anni, who have been living in the United States since September 7, 2013. Ruli and Anni are the daughters of high profile Chinese dissident Zhang Lin, who remains in prison in China. His trial is expected to take place in China on December 18. Reports indicate that Zhang Lin is in a great deal of physical pain and he is not receiving adequate medication and medical care.

While Zhang Lin’s daughters did not testify at last week’s congressional hearing “Their Daughters Appeal to Beijing: ‘Let Our Fathers Go!’” which was held by Chairman Chris Smith (NJ-04), children of other political prisoners in China did. Chris Smith is head of the Global Human Rights Subcommittee in the House of Representatives, and co-chairman of the U.S. Commission on China.

Here is their open letter:

Zhang Lin’s Trial Set for December 18, 2013

Zhang Lin and his 11-year old daughter, Anni

Zhang Lin and his 10-year old daughter, Anni


Open letter to President Obama, President Xi Jinping, United States Congress, European Parliament, British Parliament and Canadian Parliament:


We are Zhang Lin’s daughters, Zhang Ruli and Zhang Anni. Our father is currently detained in Number One Detention Center of Bengbu City, Anhui Province. His trial is set for December 18. This time he is accused of “gathering a mob to disturb public order.” This accusation, however, is completely groundless. We strongly demand that the Chinese government release our father unconditionally, as soon as possible!  We call on and urge Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, President Obama, President Xi Jinping and other heads of state, parliaments, and human rights organizations to pay attention to this blatant human rights abuse. Your attention could cause our father to be released!

In February of this year, our father took Anni to transfer to another primary school in Hefei. We were planning a new start, but to our surprise, our father was taken by local police three days later. With no guardians, my sister, 10-year-old Zhang Anni, was imprisoned by four male strangers for several hours. After that, Anni was frightened, and she would only stay at home and refuse to go out. After this incident, our father sought justice for his daughter, and was supported by many Internet users in China after he released the information. This April, Chinese netizens spontaneously gathered around Hefei, seeking justice for our father and Anni, in the hopes that Anni could return to school. Contrary to their wishes, they did not receive justice. Rather, these friends were subjected to different levels of detention as a punishment. In addition, my father and Anni were monitored by Bengbu City’s National Security Guards, 24 hours a day since that time.

Because Anni could not attend school, our father’s friends contacted the president of Women’s Rights Without Frontiers, Reggie Littlejohn, hoping that she could shelter Anni and allow her to go to school. To our surprise, during the process of contacting Reggie, our father was arrested and detained. In desperation, our father’s friend, uncle Yao Cheng, escorted us to Shanghai City, but he was taken away by local police on the first day, when we arrived at Shanghai, and has been detained till today. After we left China, two more uncles were detained because of Anni, namely, Li Hua-Ping and Zhou Weilin. The Chinese authorities are still hunting uncle Chai Bao-Wen. Now, we are living a free life in Reggie’s home in the United States, but our father and our uncles still cannot see the light of the day in the Chinese prison!

Prior to this, because our father Zhang Lin has adhered to the path of democracy, he has been imprisoned four times during his life and lost his freedom for a total of thirteen years.  Because of the long-term imprisonment and the abuses he had in prison, our father has suffered many diseases, from which he has not been cured. Because of this adherence to the path of democracy, our father dedicated almost his entire life, but finally he still got mired in imprisonment, and his children have been forced out of their home country.

Now, we are very concerned that his physical condition can no longer endure the torture of jailing. After meeting our father, the lawyer said that his physical condition is now has greatly worsened. When he was most recently detained, his left eye was almost blind due to infection; now the weather is getting cold, the detention center is cold and wet, and his joints are probably suffering bursts of pain. Not only is he suffering physical pain, but the more difficult is the mental torture. He has not done anything wrong, but again and again has suffered great persecution.

Therefore, make our appeal: we ask people from all over the world to pay attention to Zhang Lin, Yao Cheng, Zhou Weilin, Li Hua-Ping and Chai Baowen, and many other imprisoned Chinese political prisoners, and urge the Chinese government to unconditionally release them as soon as possible!

Finally, as two girls in exile in a foreign land, for our father and uncles in prison, we cry out to you again: Please focus on them! Please use your influence, because your attention can make them free!

Ruli and Anni Zhang, Daughters of Zhang Lin

(Translated by Linghou Ba)