‘I want to rescue my dad’: children’s heartbreak for the lawyers China has taken away
Li Hepings six-year-old daughter Li Jiamei dresses as a superhero, hoping to free her human rights lawyer father from prison
With a superheros green and blue cape cascading down her back, Li Jiamei skipped into her Beijing nursery wielding a pink plastic sword.
When classmates asked the Chinese schoolgirl who she had come to the Halloween fancy dress party as, she had an immediate reply.
I want to be a knight! Li declared. That way I can rescue my dad!
For all her gallantry, it is a battle the six-year-old is unlikely to win.
Li Jiamei is the daughter of Li Heping, a top Chinese human rights lawyer who has not been heard of since he disappeared into the custody of Chinas security services in July 2015.
Next month will mark one year since China began an unprecedented attack on such lawyers, rounding up and interrogating more than 300 people in what activists believe was a bid to cow the countrys vibrant rights defence movement and strike a blow to those daring to challenge the administration of President Xi Jinping.
Nearly 12 months after the crackdown began, human rights groups say at least 20 of its targets remain in detention facing accusations that they connived to overthrow Chinas authoritarian one-party system. Li Jiamei is still waiting for her father to come home.
Shes small. She misses her dad, said her mother, Wang Qiaoling, during a two-hour interview conducted in the smokey backroom of a Beijing caf in order escape the gaze of security agents who now monitor the lawyers families around the clock. I tell her I miss him too and that we must try to get through this together.
Deprived of all contact with her husband for almost a year, Wang, who is a devout Christian, looks to the Bible for solace.
We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose, said the 44-year-old, quoting from the Epistle to the Romans.