Li Shanshan barely knew Zhou Xiangyang before he was arrested and sentenced to nine years in prison, a victim of the Chinese regime’s brutal suppression of the Falun Gong spiritual practice.
Still, she had no doubts about marrying him.
“We actually only met three times before he was sent to prison. We did not hold hands even once. I first heard about him through his family, friends, and letters. He touched my heart, so I agreed to be his wife and start my extraordinary life with him,” she wrote in an open letter published on Minghui.org.
Li soon learned that most of Zhou’s relatives had also been imprisoned for practicing Falun Gong—except for his brother-in-law, who took on the task of visiting them in prison.
Li wanted to see Zhou again and also help out, so on a cold winter’s day she set out to visit him at Gangbei Prison in Tianjin. Upon arriving there, however, she was told that only relatives could visit prisoners and was turned away.
But she didn’t want to give up. As she stood outside in the snow wondering what to do, she had an idea: she would ask a prison official to marry her and Zhou—that way she would be a relative and could visit him.
Her request stunned the prison officials. They had never been asked to perform a marriage before; what they did get were countless requests for divorce due to couples breaking up as a result of the pressure of the nationwide persecution campaign launched against Falun Gong adherents by the Chinese regime in July 1999.
It was a valiant try, but Li didn’t get her wish to be married that day and neither did she get to see Zhou. But she persisted, and five months later prison officials finally agreed to let her visit him.
That was in December 2004. However, seven years would pass before he was released and the two were finally able to get married. Meanwhile, they both endured much suffering as the persecution campaign against Falun Gong practitioners raged on. keep reading