Yan Fei, a resident from the central Chinese city of Wuhan, was arrested by local police on April 19 for calling on his friends and family to sign a petition on the White House website condemning the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
On his post, Yan wrote that if 100,000 people signed the petition within 30 days, the CCP would be identified as a terrorist organization, and the White House would issue an official response on the matter.
The petition is one of countless such calls posted to the White House’s “We the People” section, which was introduced by the Obama administration.
Electrocuted for speaking out against the government
“Three policemen and a community member came to my house and forcefully took me away. After they yanked me out of my home, they said they had to check my mobile phone,” Yan said.
“Because I refused to hand them my cell phone, the officers beat me with police batons.” He said, describing how the officers violently beat him to the point of losing sensation in his arms, and that now he is unable to straighten his fingers.
“They then shocked my waist with an electric baton for about 10 minutes.” Yan said, “I was locked up for four hours, and not even allowed to go to the bathroom during this time.”
Yan said the police officers also threatened to imprison his parents, and deduct their pensions if he refused to cooperate.
Enemy of the state
Yan said he believes that the reason he was targeted by the CCP was because of his active involvement in Hong Kong’s anti-extradition bill protests. In late 2019, Yan said he participated in various freedom parades and volunteered for organizations that aimed to support the rights of Hong Kong citizens.
Yan said he also donated money to the campaign of former Hong Kong Legislative Council member Leung Kwok-hung on behalf of an organization founded by well-known Chinese dissident Qin Yongmin.
A former British colony, Hong Kong was returned to Chinese sovereignty in 1997, with the promise that its freedoms, including a free press, would be protected. However, this has not been the case, as citizens in Hong Kong have faced an increasing erosion of civil liberties, freedom of speech, and attacks at the hands of Chinese police.
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“When I met Leung, I was excited and had tears in my eyes because I don’t know many people [in China] that hold the same political opinions as me.” Yan said, adding that he believed he was “doing the right thing at the right time” during this critical time in history.
“I don’t regret what I did. I think my descendants will be proud of the things I’ve done, for standing up [for freedom] and for what I believe is right.”
Whistleblowers and activists in China have been known to “disappear” or be subject to beatings and arbitrary imprisonment for going public with any allegations that could tarnish the CCP’s image or undermine its authoritarian rule.
Forced to join communist youth organizations
Yan also told the Chinese-language edition of The Epoch Times that he would like to publicly declare his renunciation of the Communist Youth League and the Young Pioneers of the Chinese regime.
“Everyone in China is brainwashed and forced to join the CCP’s Young Pioneers without having any choice,” Yan said, urging others to recognize the nature of the oppressive regime they are living under, and choose to break free from its ideology.
Yan also said that the systemic teaching in China is designed to infiltrate young children’s minds with Party rhetoric, forcing them to learn about “national heroes,” and ultimately instill the belief that each person must sacrifice everything for their country.
“People are living in misery, and they don’t even realize it,” Yan said, “I hope more people can bypass internet censorship and awaken to the true nature [of the Party].”
By lending his voice and standing up for freedom, Yan said he hoped that the next generations in China would be better equipped with the tools and knowledge needed to fight for true democracy.