China dissident Zeng says she wants to speak out despite fear
Sun, Oct 12, 2008

BEIJING, CHINA - Chinese dissident Zeng Jinyan said on Friday that she wanted to keep speaking out on human rights but was afraid due to intimidation of her and her jailed husband, who had been tipped for the Nobel Peace Prize.

"I think that I will not give up on further efforts," Zeng said in a rare interview after silently sneaking downstairs from her third floor flat in the Bobo Freedom Village in Beijing to speak to an AFP reporter.

"But sometimes I hesitate," she said. "I can't make the decision because I am not completely sure about the risks I am facing.

"Who knows what will happen?"

The 25-year-old has used her Internet blog to challenge China over the detentions and current imprisonment of her husband, Hu Jia.

Hu, 35, had been considered one of the favourites to win the peace prize but the Norwegian Nobel Committee on Friday instead honoured Finnish peace mediator Martti Ahtisaari.

Talking nervously behind a gate in front of the back entrance of her flat, knowing she was being constantly watched, Zeng talked of her fear of speaking out but also the need to continue the fight for rights in China.

"A lot of people are scared (of speaking out). Even I have to make efforts to get rid of the fear, but if we are not serious about this, the end result will be even more terrifying," she said.

"Especially now that we have children, we have to think of them, of the next generation, as I really don't want my baby to lead the same life as me."

Zeng has been confined to her flat, where she lives with her 11-month-old daughter, under a form of unofficial house arrest.

During the Beijing Olympics in August, Zeng was taken away by authorities for 16 days to the coastal city of Dalian, in an apparent bid to prevent her activism embarrassing China during the Games.

Hu was jailed in April for three-and-a-half years on subversion charges, after he used blogs, emails, and interviews with foreign reporters to highlight various rights abuses in China.

He has campaigned against government abuses, environmental degradation and the plight of China's AIDS sufferers, but the Chinese government insists he is a criminal.

As she glanced constantly from left to right, Zeng said she was nervous about Hu's nomination for the peace prize, and sometimes still agonised over whether to continue the human rights fight.

She said authorities had once told her that if she did something wrong, Hu would suffer the consequences in prison.

"But there are rights that the constitution gave me, meeting journalists is part of the rights in the constitution," she said.

"To talk about human rights is every individual's fundamental right, it is not something that you talk about when authorities let you, and that you do not talk about when authorities do not agree," she said.

Then she glanced to her right, a fearful expression on her face as someone walked towards her.

"They're coming, they're coming, I have to go," she explained, and then ran back into her block of flats.