Human rights lawyer Xie Yanyi has been reunited with his family on Wednesday after being detained for around 18 months, according to the Hong Kong-based China Human Rights Lawyers Concern Group.

Xie Yanyi was summoned by police for questioning in July 2015 but never returned. His wife Yuan Shanshan did not know about his whereabouts until a formal notice for his arrest was issued almost six months later, in January 2016.

Xie Yanyi
Xie Yanyi with his family. Photo: CHRLCG.

As one of the lawyers detained in a sweeping crackdown on human rights lawyers in 2015, Xie was charged with “inciting subversion of state power” and held in Tianjin, a northern city close to Beijing. Before his detention, he had taken on many cases involving human rights abuses.

Xie met his ten-month old daughter for the first time when he returned home, as Yuan did not find out she was pregnant until after her husband disappeared.

He arrived at home around 2:30pm on Wednesday, according to a statement released by the family. He called his wife Yuan Shanshan on January 5 to say that he was released, but remained under surveillance in a Tianjin hotel.

Xie yanyi
Xie Yanyi. Photo: New Citizens Movement.

The statement said that Xie’s beliefs have not changed since he was detained. “Xie Yanyi said his belief in peace and democracy have not changed, and neither has his stance and belief in human rights work and rule of law in China.”

Due to his health and current situation, he will not be partaking in public affairs and will focus on spending time with his family, the statement added. He also thanked those who have supported him and his family.

“The power of kindness grows through every tribulation.”

Catherine is a Canadian journalist and photographer who lived in Beijing for almost two years, working in TV and online media. Aside from Hong Kong and mainland affairs, she is also interested in urban spaces, art and feminism. She holds a BA in Literature and Art History from the University of British Columbia.