Chinese activist, Hu Jia, has been under strict police monitor since his release from jail four years ago. Here, he talks to The Weekend Australian about his life in Beijing living in an apartment building — ironically named Freedom City — under constant surveillance.
“The repression of dissidents and human rights activists is stricter now than it has been at any time in the past 10 years and the human rights situation is deteriorating.”
“In Xi’s first year, the number of arrested dissidents and petitioners was equal to the total number of the past 10 years.”
“The one-party monopoly is feeling pressure and is becoming nervous. Xi is a typical princeling … he has a strong willingness to safeguard … political power so the notion of ideological regression and maintaining stability in China with force exist together.”
“No matter what your purpose is, if you (as an activist) go out on to the streets in the city, they will put you away first without any explanation.”
Since his release from jail four years ago Mr Hu, 41, is monitored 24 hours a day and every time he steps out on the street is followed by a group of undercover officers he refers to as his “companions”.
His wife, Zeng Jinyan, also a well-known activist, has been forced to move with their daughter to Hong Kong to give her family some peace of mind.
However, despite the strict controls that rule his daily life, Mr Hu remains one of China’s most vocal and respected activists, maintaining his campaign to highlight the nation’s human rights track record.
He spoke to The Weekend Australian online because visiting his Tongzhou home is considered too risky, because of the likely retaliation he could face from police.
Mr Hu said he feared President Xi Jinping’s activist crackdown under way for more than two years was showing no signs of slowing.
The most high-profile recent arrests, last month, were of five women — Wei Tingting, 26, Wang Man, 32, Zheng Churan, 25, Li Tingting, 25, and Wu Rongrong, 30 — who were accused of “picking quarrels”, a charge often levelled at activists and dissidents to take them off the streets.
It is estimated that at least 170 people were detained ahead of the 25th Tiananmen Square massacre anniversary last year to stop them from marking the event.
Additional reporting: Wang Yuanyuan.
China confirms dissident faces media ban
Chinese Dissident Released From Prison
Freed critics not a sign China is soft on dissent
China activist Hu Jia under house arrest, wife says
On human rights, China enforces the sound of silence
Yang Zili and the paranoid regime
China crushes intellectual freedom even after decades of successful market reforms
The plight of China’s rights lawyers
In China, to destroy lives is legal, but to save them is not