Reggie Littlejohn may not be a household name but she is well-known in the international political community as the top campaigner against gendercide — the brutal killing of “unwanted” girl babies in sex-selection abortions and infanticides.
She has taken her fast-growing campaign to the United Nations and to the governments of every county willing to listen to her compelling visual and factual presentation of how millions of women have been systematically targeted for death simply because they were conceived or born in nations where the cultural mores’ favor boys over girls.
Now, Reggie, the founder of Women’s Rights Without Frontiers, and her husband have put their money where their mouth is and the former attorney has taken in two girls from China who are political refugees.
On International Human Rights Day, some good news: Anni and Ruli Zhang have been granted political asylum in the United States. Detained overnight as a 10-year-old, Anni is known as “China’s youngest prisoner of conscience.” She and her older sister, Ruli, are the daughters of veteran prodemocracy activist Zhang Lin, who is currently serving a three-and-a-half year jail sentence for standing up for Anni’s right to go to school.
Anni has been dubbed “China’s youngest prisoner of conscience” after she was taken out of school and detained for several hours in February 2013, denied food water and a blanket, and later prevented from attending school and held under house arrest, according to rights groups.
With the help of brave activists in China and the U.S., Women’s Rights Without Frontiers (WRWF) President Reggie Littlejohn was able to secure safe passage to the U.S. for the girls. She and her husband Robert have taken the girls into their home and are raising them as their own daughters.
Littlejohn commented ‘’It is a great honor to be able to help a hero like Zhang Lin by caring for his daughters. He has given up everything for freedom and democracy in China, and is now on his fourth jail sentence. It is a travesty that he is in jail simply for standing up for his daughter’s right to go to school.’’
‘’We are absolutely thrilled that Anni and Ruli have been granted asylum and can remain indefinitely in the United States. We are very grateful to Attorney Jessica Kim, whose outstanding legal representation played a huge role in obtaining this excellent result. We are also grateful to Congressman Chris Smith and blind activist Chen Guangcheng for the letters they wrote on behalf of the girls’ asylum case,’’ Littlejohn said in a statement.
“According to their Open Letter, Anni and Ruli are delighted with their new lives in the United States, but they are justifiably concerned about their father. First of all, they are outraged by the injustice done him, as he has done nothing wrong. In addition, their father has been moved from a jail in his hometown, where his elderly parents could visit him, to a city several hours away, where his parents will not be able to visit often. If family members do not bring money to the jail for food, he will be fed only a thin, rice gruel with an ounce of salty vegetable. WRWF is sending money to Zhang Lin’s parents on his behalf, but if his parents cannot visit him, we have no means of getting the money to the jail to ensure that he can eat properly. His health is delicate, and we are worried that if he has to subsist on gruel, his health will break down,’’ Littlejohn said.
“Anni has gone from knowing no English at all when she arrived in the U.S. to being an Honor Student in just one year! Like her father, she is especially strong in math and science. She has gone from just beginning piano to being almost ready to compete in piano as well. She learned to ride a bike in two days.
“Ruli has gone from knowing almost no English to passing the GED High School Equivalency test in English. She has a job, is learning to drive, and plans to go to college when her English is strong enough.
“It is a great honor to be able to help a hero like Zhang Lin by caring for his daughters. He has given up everything for freedom and democracy in China, and is now on his fourth jail sentence. It is a travesty that he is in jail simply for standing up for his daughter’s right to go to school.