Human Rights in China (HRIC) has learned from sources in China that Shanghai rights defense lawyer Zheng Enchong was not able to pay his last respects to his mother as her conditions deteriorated in the hospital because the police had disconnected his phone line.
Zheng’s mother was hospitalized on October 10th at the Social Welfare Institution for the Aged in Nanhui District, Shanghai, and passed away in the early morning of the 12th.
HRIC learned that, while hospital staff had made repeated attempts to call Zheng Enchong to inform him of his mother’s deteriorating condition since the evening of October 11, Zheng was unreachable because his phone line had been disconnected by the police. Zheng Enchong did not find out about his mother’s death until the morning of October 12, when he borrowed a phone to check on her. Zheng believes that had the authorities not cut off his phone line, he would have had the chance to see her one last time.
Zheng and his family have been under stricter surveillance by police in the lead-up to the 17th National Party Congress, and are not allowed to leave their home without police permission. When Zheng Enchong went to the hospital to see his deceased mother on the morning of October 12, he was reportedly followed by four police cars and more than 10 police officers.
Zheng Enchong was arrested in June 2003, for “illegally providing state secrets abroad,” and was released in June 2006, after a three-year sentence. Under the terms of his sentence, Zheng was then subject to one year’s deprivation of political rights, which ended June 2007. Since his release, Zheng has been under virtual house arrest, and he and his family have faced ongoing harassment and monitoring by the police.
The tragic human cost of the authorities’ harassment, including the disconnecting of the family’s phone line, was that Zheng Enchong was not able to visit his mother one last time. HRIC extends its deepest condolences to Zheng and his family.