Torture, anger overshadow family reunion festival for relatives of detained Chinese fisherman

11:03, September 23, 2010      

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Chen Tingting was in no mood to prepare delicious meals for her family during the traditional Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival, an occasion for family reunions, as her husband has been illegally detained by Japanese authorities for the past two weeks.

"My husband's old grandmother had been able to walk two weeks ago, but suddenly passed away after hearing that her grandson had been detained by the Japanese while catching fish," Chen said.

"As the oldest grandson, he was thought to be responsible for hosting the funeral. But he couldn' t come back," she said.

Chen's family is in Gangfu Village in the Shenhu Township in Jinjiang City of east China's Fujian Province. The village has about 2,500 residents and more than 80 percent depend on fishing for their livings.

"We have an old mother and a young son. The family's life counts on my husband alone. Now that he is detained, how can we continue our life?" she asked.

Torture and anger haunted Chen's family Wednesday on the day of the Mid-Autumn Festival, also known as the Moon Festival. The festival is celebrated on the 15th day of the eighth month in the Chinese lunar calendar. It is when the moon is supposedly at its fullest and brightest and families come together and eat the traditional delicacy, the mooncake.

But Chen lacked the spirit to celebrate the festival and buy mooncakes. Instead, the family ate instant noodles for lunch.

"He has been fishing for more than 20 years and he has gone to the Diaoyu Islands often in the past years. After he was caught by the Japanese, he had telephoned me saying that he would come back soon because he had done nothing wrong," she added.

On Sept. 7, two Japan Coast Guard patrol ships and a Chinese trawler collided in waters off China's Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea. The Japan Coast Guard then illegally seized the Chinese trawler and detained the fishermen and the captain on Sept. 8.

The 14 Chinese crew were released last week. But despite strong protests from the Chinese government and public, Japanese authorities continued to illegally detain the captain, Chen's husband, 41-year-old Zhan Qixiong.

China has postponed scheduled talks with Japan on joint energy exploration in the East China Sea and said Japan's refusal to release the trawler captain had "severely damaged" relations between the two countries. In addition, China has canceled ministerial and provincial-level contacts with Japan, suspended talks on aviation issues, and postponed a meeting on coal.

Also, during a three-day visit to New York, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao demanded on Tuesday night that Japan immediately release the captain.

"I strongly urge the Japanese side to release the captain immediately and unconditionally," Wen said while meeting representatives of Chinese nationals and Chinese Americans.

"If Japan clings to its mistake, China will take further actions and the Japanese side shall bear all the consequences that arise," he said.

Zhan's detention has also sparked strong dissatisfaction among his neighbors and relatives.

"We are living beside the sea, so we depend on the sea for living. The waters off Diaoyu Islands have been our fishing area generation after generation. Why can't we Chinese fishermen catch fish in our Chinese own territorial sea?" asked Zhan Lingxing, a fellow villager.

"The Japanese have held him in detention for 10 days, and they even continue to detain him for another 10 days. They are going too far," said Zhong Chunxia, one of Zhan's relatives.

Zhan's mother suffers from a serious disease of cataracts and sees almost nothing. She has been lying in bed weeping all day since her son's detention.

"I miss my dad. I hope the Japanese will give him back to me soon," Zhan's 13-year-old son, in tears, told Xinhua on Wednesday.

Source: Xinhua


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