An Australian democracy advocate imprisoned in China for almost two years has delivered a heartfelt Christmas message to family and friends, insisting he still thinks he can receive a fair trial.
Since January 2019, Yang Hengjun has been tortured and interrogated more than 300 times by Chinese authorities who have accused the outspoken blogger of spying.
“As Christmas and New Year approaches, I miss you more and more,” Dr Yang told supporters back home in Australia.
“I met you in a dream several times. It seemed so real. I regretted having had to wake up. I wanted to pull you out of the dream and hug you tightly.”
In October, the former employee of China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs was formally charged with espionage, paving the way for a trial that had been scheduled for January, but has now been delayed by several months.
Despite his ordeal, the 55-year-old Australian citizen has assured relatives he is “stronger than ever” and that he still has “some confidence in the court”.
“I think they will give me justice — whether or not they judge me guilty will say a lot about whether the court is governed by rule of law or by pure absolute power,” he said.
“I am now in a place of deeper retrospective and introspective meditation. It makes me strong.
“I think a lot about my life, especially the past 20 years. My life has meaning. Don’t worry about me.
“I feel sorrow that when I was free, I didn’t spend enough time with you.”
Australian embassy officials were again able to briefly meet with the detained writer last week, although Chinese authorities have not yet given any details of the espionage allegations levelled against him.
In the first 18 months after Dr Yang was detained in the city of Guangzhou, he did not receive access to a lawyer and his refusal to confess to any crime is believed to be causing difficulty for the country’s justice system.
“Please tell my relatives not to let my situation affect their lives,” Dr Yang reassured his family.
“I have strong faith in humanity, in righteousness, justice and God. I read, pray, think and do exercise. I am stronger than ever.”