Silenced Voices: The Struggle for Free Expression by Programming Thinker and Be Zhengying

The legendary Chinese blogger “Programming Thinker,” sentenced to seven years for “inciting subversion,” spent his third birthday in Shanghai’s detention center. His wife, Be Zhengying, who is appealing his case, has been missing since the end of May. In an interview just before her disappearance, she defended her husband’s patriotism, emphasizing his blog as a record of independent views. Programming Thinker, born Ruan Xiaohuan in 1977, gained fame for his diverse blog topics. He faced persistent attempts by authorities to capture him, and his arrest in 2021 led to a secretive trial resulting in a seven-year prison sentence. Be Zhengying, his wife and college classmate, discovered his identity as Programming Thinker only after his arrest. Despite initial disbelief, she has actively sought justice, refusing to sign a non-disclosure agreement and using social media to raise awareness. Facing potential risks in a country where online activity can lead to convictions, she remains committed to advocating for her husband’s rights.
We firmly support Xiaohuan Ruan and his wife, Be Zhengying, for their courage and determination in facing challenges to the right of free expression. We call on the international community to pay attention to this case, collectively defending freedom of speech and supporting those who courageously exercise this essential right. Globally, we must work together to ensure that freedom of speech is respected and protected, fostering innovation, critical thinking, and the shared progress of societies worldwide.

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