BlogHers Act: The speaker who won't be at BlogHer

BlogHer Original Post

[img_assist|fid=4174|thumb=1|alt=Zeng Jinyan] I want to tell you the story of a speaker who won't be coming to BlogHer. I wish she could tell her story at BlogHer, but she can't. And her story is only one of many.

Perhaps our BlogHers Act initiative should be to free the voices of those who are currently being silenced around the world?

We have a session on Day Two entitled Blogging: the Voice For Silenced Communities. We are planning to feature bloggers who blog out in the face of emotional, societal and governmental barriers. I've got the first two covered, with the wonderful Grace Davis and Katharine Stone on hand to speak out about childhood sexual abuse and postpartum depression respectively. I'm working on the latter, and it's a tough nut to crack.

Case in point: Meet Zeng Jinyan.

Recommended by our friends at Global Voices, Jinyan is only 22 years old, the wife of an oft-imprisoned AIDS and environmental activist, and is now, as I discovered, under a form of house arrest herself. Jinyan's blog is blocked in China, and she herself can only post to it via email. You can read more about her both at Global Voices and at the Huffington Post.

This was Jinyan's reply to my invitation to join us at BlogHer:

Thanks for your invitation. I really want to attend your penal [sic], however I don't think I can make it at this special time.

Currently, my husband, a human rights activist Hu Jia is put under illegal house arrest by police and I have limited freedom to move. The police accuse us "endangering national security", without legal procedure, to prevent us from travelling abroad. We planned to travel around Europe from May 18 to July 15. And I think I can walk out of my apartment because I am pregnant and we need to buy food for survival.

I have another plan to visit the US in August, which is invited by the US government. I don't know whether the police would ban me going out again.

When I asked Jinyan if I could blog about her situation and what BlogHers should do, she replied:

Of course you can blog about my situation. If your members want to do something, please tell participants that in China, the number of activists in prison has not reduced, however the number of people being put under house arrest increases. Our situation is just one of cases.

There are often people who can't come to BlogHer, to speak or otherwise, because of money, family commitments, the late stages of pregnancy, care-taking responsibilities, even because the visa request was made way too late to get into the country. This was, however, my first encounter with someone who can't come because she is under house arrest.

But she's still blogging.

More links:
A Case of Blog Personality
Q&A with Zeng Jinyan
The Year of the Dog - A Chines Activist's story


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