Detained Human Rights Defender YANG Maodong Reports Being Tortured during Interrogation

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Detained Human Rights Defender YANG Maodong Reports Being Tortured during Interrogation

The Chinese government must honor its treaty obligations 19 years after it ratified the Convention Against Torture

Yang Maodong (a.k.a. Guo Feixiong) told his lawyer that he has been tortured and punished by cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment while in detention. According to Zhang Qing, Mr. Yang’s wife, during a pre-trial visit by his lawyer at the No. 3 Detention Center in Guangzhou City, Guangdong Province, on May 28, 2007, Mr. Yang told his lawyer that he had been tortured to force him to make a confession.

Mr. Yang described various forms of torture that he suffered during his detention at a secret location in Shenyang City, Liaoning Province, on February 12, 2007, including sitting on “a tiger’s bench”* for four hours, being hung from the ceiling by the arms and legs bending backwards, being hit with an electric prod on the face and arms and genitals in that position, and being slapped on the face several dozen times until his face was swollen. Yang told his lawyer that, after such humiliation, he unsuccessfully attempted suicide on February 13. After failing to obtain any confession, police beat him violently for 5-6 minutes with electric prods (without switching on the electricity) on March 19, trying again to force him to confess. Since then, however, Yang told his lawyer, he decided to confess to anything asked of him by his interrogators. He said he was treated well at the Shenyang and Guangzhou detention centers, but when police took him out to secret locations for interrogation, they performed these forms of torture to try to force confession.

“Mr. Yang’s report is not a surprise. He had reported being tortured before, in January 2007, when he told his lawyer that he was beaten and tied to a bench for 40 days! Yang’s experience confirms what we know from other sources, that the use of torture during interrogations at detention facilities is widespread. It is shocking that in its 4th state report to the UN Committee against Torture, China does not even mention torture in such a context,” said Renee Xia, the international coordinator of CHRD.

Mr. Yang was transferred to Shenyang between January 20 and March 27 for “facilitating investigation.” Since being transferred back to Guangzhou, Mr. Yang said, police interrogations focused on his role during the Taishi Village protest in the summer and fall of 2005, when villagers demanded the removal of a village chief who was suspected of embezzling community funds. Mr. Yang and other lawyers went to Taishi, Guangdong Province, to provide legal assistance. Mr. Yang refused to answer any questions related to Taishi, he said, since Taishi is irrelevant to the crime for which he is charged. Police told him that the Taishi incident endangered national security.

Mr. Yang’s trial for “suspected illegal business dealings” is scheduled for June 15 at the Tianhe District Court in Guangzhou. The lawyer’s visit took place under police surveillance, in spite of the lawyer’s protest.

CHRD strongly protests the use of torture to force Mr. Yang to confess. CHRD urges

the Chinese government, a state party to the International Convention Against Torture since 1988, to conduct a thorough investigation of Mr. Yang’s claim about torture, and cruel and degrading treatment, and take legal action against those responsible. China’s 4th report under the Convention Against Torture will be reviewed by at the United Nations in May 2008.

From CHRD Archive:

Guo Feixiong (郭飞雄): Real name Yang Maodong (杨茂东), a scholar, writer, activist and legal adviser, detained since September 2006. On January 20, 2007, Yang was transferred to Shenyang city, Liaoning Province, for investigation of local dealing of his “illegal business transactions.” Two month later, he was transferred back to Guangzhou at the end of March 2007. The Tianhe District prosecutors in Guangzhou filed received additional evidence from police investigations in early April. The prosecutors, according to law, must decide to file an indictment against him with the court or to drop the charges by mid-May.

Guo is known for his work assisting a failed effort in the village of Taishi, Guangdong Province, in late 2005, to remove the village chief. He was detained for three months for providing legal aid to Taishi villagers seeking the removal, through a recall motion, of a village director on suspicion of corruption. After his release in December 2005, police monitored and harassed Guo, including beating him up three times. Harassment continued after he returned home from a visit to the US in summer 2006. In early August 2006, he was brutally beaten again on a train to Beijing, where he was going to look for a job. He was forced to return to Guangzhou by the police. Mr. Guo then devoted himself to providing legal aid to the Beijing lawyer Gao Zhisheng, who was detained in August 2006.

On September 14, 2006, Guangdong police detained Guo on charges of suspected illegal business dealings. He was formally arrested on September 30. On December 26, Guangzhou Municipal Public Security Bureau issued a “Notification to Authorized Defense Lawyer,” which was sent to Mr. Guo at the detention center on December 28. The Guangzhou PSB spent two months investigating the case and then sent the case to the Tianhe District Procuratorate in Guangzhou for prosecution. The Procuratorate returned the case twice to the police for additional investigation. On September 29, 2006, Mr. Guo’s lawyers Mo Shaoping and Hu Xiao met him for the first time. Guo told his lawyers that he had been on hunger strike, refusing to take food and water, and that he was being interrogated continuously for many hours. On January 11, 2007, Hu Xiao and one other lawyer from the Beijing Mo Shaoping Law Firm were able to visit Guo for the second time at the Guangzhou Municipal No. 1 Detention Center.

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* Sitting on “A tiger’s bench” is a traditional form of torture used in punishment or forcing confession. The victim sits on a beach upright against a pole, legs tied and stretched out straight on the bench, with hands tied behind the pole. The torturer then adds bricks under the legs to increase the pain or to cause the legs to break. See the following Chinese website for a definition of this form of torture (in Chinese):

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