For most, the flag on the front porch flies for pride. At Yu Jie’s home in Gainesville, Va., it represents freedom from fear. Jie says there’s a very big difference between the life he has now and the life back in China.
Yu, one of China’s most famous dissident writers, told News4 about the inhumane treatment that forced him out of his country.
“They physically bent his fingers backwards, slapped his face and stomped his chest,” translator Helen Gao said.
Yu has boldly criticized Chinese leaders, including the Prime Minister Wen Jiabao, in his writings. His 11 books and a dear friendship almost cost him his life. Yu says police threatened him, telling him it would only take them half an hour to dig a hole to bury him alive.
In 2010, Yu was detained after his good friend Liu Xiaobo was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Xiaobo is serving an 11-year prison sentence for his human rights activism and writings.
The two worked closely together. The relationship would lead to days of torture, months of monitoring and eventually no more writing for Yu. Last year, he decided his life was constantly under threat and he didn’t feel safe in China anymore.
In January, Yu; his wife, Liu Min; and his young son, Justin, were permitted to leave China. Yu thinks officials wanted him out during a presidential transition year. He’s now out of the country but still on course with his writings. He has two new books coming out before the summer: One on Liu Xiaobo and another on China’s current President Hu Jintao.
Meanwhile, Yu is using what he calls God’s present to China -- the Internet. An avid tweeter, Yu has more than 31,000 followers.
He’s enjoying new ways to stay on mission and hopes it will help him make a difference someday back home. Yu says he wants to go back to China because he writes in Chines, his readers are Chinese and he feels that’s the only way he could help propel democracy in China.
Last month, he applied for asylum and hopes to be an American citizen in the next five years.