In Letters Smuggled out of Prison, Journalist Qi Chonghuai Details AbusesComments Off on In Letters Smuggled out of Prison, Journalist Qi Chonghuai Details Abuses
In Letters Smuggled out of Prison, Journalist Qi Chonghuai Details Abuses
(Chinese Human Rights Defenders- December 9, 2009) CHRD has obtained copies of letters written by imprisoned journalist Qi Chonghuai (齐崇淮) which detail the torture, beatings, and hard labor to which he has been subjected over the past two and half years. A person familiar with Qi’s handwriting has verified the letters to be authentic.
“The physical abuses to which Qi Chonghuai has been subjected are shocking, and clearly violate the Convention against Torture, which China has ratified,” said Renee Xia, CHRD’s International Director. “Prison guards who implicitly or explicitly condone violence between inmates must be held accountable.”
Qi’s wife Jiao Xia (焦霞) was last able to visit her husband on February 4, 2009, and his brother was barred from visiting with him in June of this year. Qi, who was sentenced to four years in prison for “extortion and blackmail” on May 13, 2008, is currently imprisoned in Tengzhou Jinzhuang Prison.
According to Qi’s letters, he was first tortured while in pre-trial detention. During an interrogation on August 13, 2007, Qi was bound to an iron chair and beaten until he lost consciousness by a Tengzhou City policeman. During the 408 days Qi was held at the Tengzhou City Detention Center before being sentenced, he reported being beaten “nearly every day.”
On August 8, 2008, Qi was transferred to Tengzhou Prison. On the day he arrived, he was beaten by fellow inmates, suffering a broken rib. In the following year, Qi was beaten on at least six more occasions.
On April 30, 2009, a prison guard named Liu Huanyong (劉煥永) confiscated a number of Qi’s manuscripts which documented the conditions inside the Tengzhou Prison. Afterwards, that same guard dispatched an inmate, Zhai Fengqiang (翟鳳強), to “do away” with Qi. “I was ruthlessly beaten at the bottom of a 130-meter deep mine,” Qi writes. “My entire face was mangled and bloody, and I lost consciousness. I don’t know how long I was down there. Two fellow inmates found me and dragged me out of the mine, narrowly saving my life. If not for them, I would still be at the bottom of that mine.” He did not regain consciousness until May 6.
Qi’s letters vividly describe other harrowing details of prison life. “After I was sent to Tengzhou Prison, the kinds of maltreatment of prisoners I experienced first-hand and witnessed made my heart shiver.” Since his sentence began, Qi has been forced to perform hard labor in coal mines run by the prison. Working over ten hours per day without adequate food, water or rest, Qi has been forced to carry very heavy rails to construct tracks for mining carts and push mining carts. According to Qi, as a result of the combination of beatings and relentless labor, his left thumb, knees and waist are permanently injured and he has difficulties walking.
The prisoners who work at the mine are provided with little or no protective gear, and many are ill with pneumoconiosis. When they are ill or injured, they are given no medical attention. According to Qi, for a prison population of 2,800, there is only one doctor. Qi witnessed the deaths of a number of fellow prisoners as a result of the harsh treatment.
CHRD calls for the immediate release of Qi Chonghuai. We believe that Qi was arrested, convicted, and sentenced on trumped-up charges by local officials seeking to retaliate against him for his investigative reporting. His detention is arbitrary and violates his right to freedom of expression, as guaranteed by Article 35 of the Chinese Constitution as well as Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which China has signed (though not ratified).
The torture and abuse to which Qi has been subjected is unconscionable. China ratified the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment in 1988, and Qi’s rights as defined by that convention have been repeatedly and seriously violated. The practice of guards using prisoners to “control” other prisoners is common; CHRD has reported on this phenomenon previously, and the Committee against Torture mentioned this practice in their list of issues to be considered during the examination of China’s state report in November 2008. CHRD calls on the Chinese government to take appropriate steps to hold the individuals responsible for abusing Qi legally accountable.
Qi, a reporter and former Shandong Bureau Chief for the Fazhi Morning Post, is known for his articles exposing local corruption, social injustice and human rights violations. He was detained by police on June 25, 2007, after reporting on corruption related to the construction of the Haohua Government Office Building in Tengzhou City, Shandong Province, and on May 13, 2008, Qi was sentenced to four years in prison by the Tengzhou City Court for “extortion and blackmail.”
For More Information, Please See:
“Journalist Who Exposed Corruption Gets Four Years,” May 14, 2008, https://www.nchrd.org/Article/Print.asp?ArticleID=8680
“Persistent Torture, Unaccountable Torturers: A Report on China’s Implementation of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment,” November 5, 2008, https://www.nchrd.org/Article/Class9/Class11/200811/20081105101541_11571.html
Renee Xia, International Director (English and Mandarin), +852 8191 6937 or +1 301 547 9286
Jiang Yingying, Researcher (English and Mandarin), +852 8170 0237