Watch List of Detainees and Prisoners of Conscience in Need of Medical Attention

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Watch List of Detainees and Prisoners of Conscience in Need of Medical Attention


Updated: February 10, 2017

Depriving medical treatment to individuals in custody is a life-threatening form of torture. Authorities’ failure or refusal to provide adequate medical care for detainees violates Chinese law and, among other international standards, the Convention against Torture, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the Basic Principles for the Treatment of Prisoners. In the Concluding Observations from its review of China in May 2014, the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights expressed its concern about reports that detained Chinese activists and lawyers have been deprived of medical care as a form of government reprisal. Recognizing this serious issue, the Committee urged China to guarantee these individuals “have adequate access to health care in all circumstances.”

The deprivation of medical care to further persecute detainees and prisoners of conscience reflects a tacit central government policy and a systematic pattern in practice. This form of abuse has led to the death of activists, as seen most recently in the tragic case of Cao Shunli (曹顺利). Ms. Cao was managing health conditions at the time she was seized in September 2013, but she was not allowed to take medication that she had brought into detention. After not receiving adequate medical treatment, Cao eventually died in March 2014 from complications of illnesses that worsened or came about during over five months in custody. Others who have died after not being provided medical care in custody include Chen Xiaoming (陈晓明), Duan Huimin (段惠民), and Goshul Lobsang.

CHRD launched our Medical Watch List of Chinese detainees and prisoners of conscience on June 26, 2014, to mark the United Nations’ International Day of Support of Victims of Torture. Below are 11 cases (in alphabetical order) of currently detained or imprisoned individuals who suffer from deteriorating health and have been deprived of adequate medical treatment and denied release on medical grounds. Many of these individuals are experiencing the same pattern of abuse that led to the death of Cao Shunli—a lack of access to adequate medical treatment while in custody, a gradual decline of health and development of new illnesses or injuries from torture, and rejection of (or no response to) requests by lawyers or family members for medical release. CHRD will be updating this list on a regular basis with new information. 13 individuals previously on the list have been released (their case information is at the bottom of the page in order of release date, with the most recent first). Some of these individuals continue to be denied access to necessary medical care.


Mr. Chen Xi (西) – Chronic enteritis
Date of Birth: February 28, 1954
Place of Detention: Xingyi Prison, Guizhou Province

Chen Xi, a member of the Guizhou Human Rights Forum, has been serving a 10-year sentence on the charge of “inciting subversion of state power” since January 2012.

Chen’s wife Zhang Qunxuan (张群选) is extremely concerned about the health of her husband, and fears he may die if not given proper medical treatment. For over a year, Chen has been suffering from chronic enteritis, an inflammation or infection of the digestive tract that causes severe diarrhea, dehydration, and fever. Zhang first learned Chen was suffering from a stomach ailment after a visit in January 21, 2014, when he told her he had been having bouts of diarrhea since early December 2013 but had not received effective treatment. After a visit in May 2014, Zhang reported that her husband’s health had not improved; she found that he is very weak and thin, and that his mental state is very poor. Following a December 26, 2014 visit, Zhang reported that Chen’s condition had worsened; he is extremely weak and has lost a lot of weight. She believes he now weighs approximately 120 pounds (55 kilos). The prison has given him some medication but they have had no effect. Authorities rejected Chen Xi’s lawyer’s application for medical parole made after the May visit. His wife filed a new application for release following the December visit but has not received a response.


Mr. Ilham Tohti (伊力哈木Ÿ.土赫提) – Unknown liver condition, heart disease, pharyngitis, prostatitis
Date of Birth: October 25, 1969
Place of Detention: Xinjiang Autonomous Region Public Security Bureau Detention Center, Urumqi City, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region

Ilham Tohti, a Uyghur scholar at the Central University for Nationalities, was seized by Beijing police on January 15, 2014 and arrested on February 20 on charges of “splittism” by Urumqi police. He was tried on September 17-18, and on September 23 authorities sentenced him to life imprisonment and seized all of his assets.

According to Tohti’s lawyer Li Fangping (李方平), who along with lawyer Wang Yu (王宇) was allowed a visit on June 26, Tohti suffers from a number of medical conditions and has been mistreated in detention. He has liver pain, possibly caused by an unknown liver condition but no tests have been conducted, as well as heart disease, pharyngitis (an inflammation of the pharynx) and prostatitis (infection of the prostate). He told his lawyer he has been give some medication, but the conditions have not been effectively treated. Since being taken into detention, Tohti has had his legs shackled for 20 days, and from March 1-10, after the attack on the Kunming Train Station which the government blamed on Uyghur separatists, he was deprived of food and given just half a liter of water for 10-days. He also went on a hunger strike for 10-days from January 16-26 to protest against the detention center not providing halal food. Since his detention began, he has lost 16 kilos (35 pounds). His lawyers submitted a complaint to the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region Procuratorate on June 27, 2014, but no investigation was conducted.


Mr. Liu Jiacai (刘家财) – Heart disease
Date of Birth: October 26, 1965
Place of Detention: Yichang City No. 1 Detention Center, Hubei Province

Liu Jiacai, a Hubei activist, is serving a five year prison sentence for “inciting subversion of state power.” He was first detained in Augsut 2013 and sentenced on May 11, 2015.

Liu suffers from heart disease, and his family and lawyer have reported that his health has declined in detention. On September 16, 2013, Liu’s wife, Wang Yulan (王玉兰), applied for his release due to a heart condition, but instead Liu was formally arrested two days later. His lawyer, Xie Yanyi (谢燕益), visited him on September 22, 2013, and reported that Liu’s health was poor. Both Xie and Wang have made multiple requests to have Liu released on medical bail, but they have not received a response from authorities. Lawyer Xie reported after a visit in November that Liu was being held in a room with around 20 other detainees, and he requested the detention authorities transfer Liu to a quieter room for humanitarian reasons, but the request was not granted. In August 2016, Liu’s wife raised alarm about her husband’s condition in prison. She said his psychological wellbeing is suffering from the pressue in prison and frequent punishments he receives. He is reportedly taking medication for his mental health.


Ms. Liu Ping (刘萍) – Gallstone surgery recovery, severe diarrhea, rheumatoid arthritis
Date of Birth: December 2, 1964
Place of Detention: Xinyu City Detention Center, Jiangxi Province

Liu Ping, a Jiangxi-based activist, was sentenced to six years and six months in prison on June 19, 2014. She has been held in detention since April 2013.

Liu Ping has been denied medical treatment for severe diarrhea that may have been caused by unsanitary conditions at the detention facility. She was still recovering from surgery for an inflamed gallbladder and gallstones that was performed weeks before she was initially detained in April 2013. Liu also reportedly suffers from rheumatoid arthritis. Liu’s lawyer reported in July 2013 she had become very weak, having lost a great deal of weight while needing to force herself to eat and suffering daily bouts of severe diarrhea. Lawyers requested bail for Liu during her first trial in October 2013, but the trial was suspended.

Police beat her in the days after they took her into custody, and she reported being choked and, having her arms twisted painfully. Later, when Liu was interrogated in the detention center, police repeatedly shoved her head against metal bars, trying to strangle her, and twisted her arms, all while she was shackled. During her second trial in December, her lawyer raised the issue of torture, but the court refused to dismiss evidence or a confession that may have been extracted from torture. The court also refused to file a case to investigate the allegation of torture. Liu’s lawyer applied for release on bail in March 2014, but was rejected.


Ms. Liu Xia (刘霞) – Unknown heart condition, depression
Date of Birth: April 1, 1961
Place of Detention: Illegal house arrest, Beijing

Liu Xia, a poet, has been under house arrest in Beijing since October 2010, and has not been charged with any crime. The restriction of her freedom of movement began after her husband Liu Xiaobo (刘晓波) was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. She has only been able to go out of her residence in the company of national security officers, visitors are not allowed, and telephone and Internet communications have been shut off.

In early February 2014, police accompanied Liu Xia to a Beijing hospital because of symptoms of heart disease — reportedly diagnosed by doctors as a heart attack—and also a throat inflammation. The hospital stopped tests after just one day and sent her home, according to her lawyer, Mo Shaoping (莫少平). Initially, doctors said she would be admitted for two weeks for comprehensive tests. On February 18, Liu Xia was hospitalized for the second time to undergo tests and treatment for a heart condition. Additionally, Liu Xia has mentioned to her lawyer severe depression brought on by isolation and restrictions, but she did not want to see a psychologist, fearing that authorities may send her to a psychiatric hospital against her will. Police have warned her family not to speak publically about her health, and reportedly have refused to allow Liu to travel overseas for medical treatment.


Ms. Su Changlan (苏昌兰)Hyperthyroidism
Date of birth: August 18, 1971
Place of detention: Nanhai District Detention Center, Foshan City, Guangdong Province

Housing rights activist Su Changlan was put on trial in April 2016 on charges of “inciting subversion of state power.” She was initially detained in late October 2014 during the crackdown on supporters of the Hong Kong pro-democracy protests. The Supreme People’s Court has repeatedly approved delays in the issuing of her verdict.

Su suffers from hyperthyroidism, an overactive thyroid condition that is treatable, but her condition has deteriorated while in detention due to denied and inadequate treatment. Su told her lawyers in May 2015—the first time they were able to visit her—that her overall health has worsened, and that she had been suffering from intermittent heart stoppage, uncontrollable tearing in her eyes, and tremors in her hands and feet. Her brother consulted with a doctor, who warned the symptoms affecting her heart are very serious. She also was denied medical care in April 2015, when she suffered from a fever for over a week. Su had previously been hospitalized in 2014 prior to her detention and required attentive medical care. Following a September 8, 2016 visit with her lawyer Wu Kuiming, Wu revealed that Su Changlan has been hospitalized 6-7 times due to eczema caused by poor detention conditions, with the latest incident occuring on August 20.

Su’s lawyers Liu Xiaoyuan (刘晓原) and Wu Kuiming (吴魁明) have sought her release on medical bail twice, in January and May 2015, but authorities denied the applications both times. Though authorities are aware of her medical state, Su has been kept in an overcrowded cell that is not conducive to good health; the cell usually holds 50 to 80 women, and she has only a two-foot wide space to sleep, often preventing her from falling asleep. During a meeting in December 2015, lawyer Wu reported Su was brought to the meeting wearing a black hood, and her health is very poor. She has frequently become ill in the detention center but not given proper medical treatment, and has developed a cough and has been coughing up blood. She continues to have a tremor in her hands. An inspection in the detention center hospital reveleased she now has heart arrhythmia (abnormal heart rhythm).


Mr. Tulku Phurbu Tsering Rinpoche (普布泽仁仁波切 aka Pangri-na Rinpoche 布绒朗仁波切) – Unknown medical condition, currently emaciated and weak
Date of Birth: January 2, 1957
Place of Detention: Mianyang Prison, Sichuan Province

Phurbu Tsering Rinpoche is a highly respected reincarnated Tulku (Living Buddha) of the Tehor Kardze Monastery and the head of the Pangri and Ya-tseg nunneries in Kardze (Ch: Ganzi) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in Sichuan. He has been serving an eight-and-a-half-year sentence on a trumped-up “illegally owning guns and explosives” charge since 2009. Rinpoche initially disappeared in May 2008 after a group of nuns held a peaceful protest in Kardze.

In August 2014, a source of the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy met Rinpoche in prison, and described him as unrecognizable; Rinpoche is weak and emaciated. It is believed that his health has deteriorated due to severe conditions in confinement. Rinpoche’s lawyers during his December 2009 trial, Li Fangping (李方平) and Jiang Tianyong (江天勇), reported he had been severely tortured and forced to confess while he was held incommunicado in 2008.


Mr. Wang Yonghang (王永航) – Tuberculosis, pleural and peritoneal effusions
Date of Birth: February 17, 1973
Place of Detention: Shenyang No. 1 Prison, Liaoning Province

Wang Yonghang, a human rights lawyer, has been serving a seven-year sentence for “using a cult to undermine implementation of the law” since 2009. Wang should have been released in July 2016 at the end of his sentence but there has been no word of his current status.

Wang has been suffering from several serious illnesses in prison and may be paralyzed from torture. His wife Yu Xiaoyan (于晓艳) learned in January 2012 that her husband was infected with tuberculosis, had pleural and peritoneal effusions – the collection of fluid in the chest and abdominal cavities – and was numb from the waist down. Wang’s condition worsened, and he was admitted to hospital in May 2014. Wang is also reportedly so weak that he can barely talk. When police seized Wang on July 4, 2009, he was severely beaten, suffering fractures in his right ankle. The injury was not promptly treated (surgery was not performed until August 11 of that year), which led to a serious infection. The infection has persisted. Wang’s family and lawyer have not been allowed to meet Wang during his detention because, according to the police, his case involves “state secrets.”

While detained in the Dalian City Detention Center, Wang went on a hunger strike to protest the beating of fellow inmates who were Falun Gong practitioners. A prison doctor force-fed Wang, which caused respiratory tract bleeding and nearly fatal suffocation. Guards handcuffed Wang and shackled him to a makeshift bed on the floor for about 48 hours as punishment for his hunger strike. After Wang was transferred to Shenyang No. 1 Prison in October 2010, he was reportedly beaten by other inmates acting on instructions from the prison police, and was put in solitary confinement later that month. Wang’s wife has been prevented from seeing her husband, subjected to surveillance, and warned not to discuss his health with anyone.


Mr. Yang Maodong (杨茂东 aka Guo Feixiong 郭飞雄)– Unknown spinal injury, effects of hunger strike/torture
Date of Birth: August 2, 1966
Place of Detention: Yangchun Prison, Guangdong Province

Guo Feixiong is the pen name of Yang Maodong, a prominent Guangzhou writer and lawyer. He is serving a six year sentence on charges of “gathering a crowd to disrupt order of a public place” and “picking quarrels and provoking trouble.” He was first detained in August 2013 and sentenced on November 27, 2015.

According to his lawyer, Yang’s health has deteriorated since his detention began in 2013, and his lower legs are extremely weak. His sister and doctor believe his condition could be caused from the hunger strike he went on in protest of his treatment, or from torture. His lawyer has applied twice for release on medical bail, the first time in 2013 and then again in June 2014, but authorities refused to grant bail, claiming that Guo posed a “danger to society” if released. According to his wife Zhang Qing (张青), he was relatively healthy before he was detained. Yang was previously imprisoned from 2006-2011, during which he was severely tortured, including being beaten, tied to a tiger bench* and was hanged from a ceiling by his arms with his legs bent back while being hit with an electric prod on the face, arms, and genitals.

Yang Maodong was transferred to Yangchun (阳春) Prison in Guangdong Province on February 21, 2016. Eight days later his sister, Yang Maoping (杨茂平), who is a doctor by profession, reported that the 50-year-old activist suffers from inhumane living conditions in prison which have led to deteriorating health and significant wealth loss. He has been deprived of sleep; he can only sleep several hours a night, due to overcrowding inside his cell and a high noise level outside the cell. Yang’s sister observed that he has lost approximately one-third of his weight since the time he had been detained. He has experienced great difficulty in standing up. Yang’s sister told prison authorities that she would pay for a comprehensive health examination for Yang, but officials denied her request.

In April 2016, Guo’s sister raised alarm that her brother’s physical condition has turned critical following a visit on April 26, 2016 at Yangchun Prison in Guangdong. The 50-year-old activist reportedly informed her right at the start of the visit that he had been sent to the prison hospital on April 7 due to persistent bleeding, and he had hemorrhaged on April 19, but that no effective treatment or comprehensive physical exam has been provided to him. Yang Maodong told her that he has periodically had blood in his stool over the past year, and that he has sometimes bled from his throat and mouth since being transferred to prison this past February. He also told his sister that he is being held under restrictive and inhumane living conditions in the hospital; he has been kept in a windowless 7.5-square-meter room for 23 hours a day and with four other patients. Ms. Yang observed that her brother appeared unusually pale and thin. Prison authorities have repeatedly denied multiple requests by both Guo and his family for a physical examination to be performed.

*Tiger bench: A torture victim is forced to sit upright on a long bench with hands tied behind their back. Their thighs are fastened to the bench while feet are raised off the floor by bricks, putting extreme strain on the knees.


Mr. Yang Tongyan (同彦) – Tuberculosis, diabetes, nephritis, hepatitis, hypertension, arthritis
Date of Birth: April 12, 1961
Place of Detention: Nanjing Prison, Jiangsu Province

Yang Tongyan, also known by his pen name Yang Tianshui (杨天水), is a dissident writer and member of the Independent Chinese PEN Center. He has been serving a 12-year prison sentence for “subversion of state power” since 2006.

Yang suffers from a myriad of illnesses, including intestinal tuberculosis, tuberculosis peritonitis (in the abdomen lining), diabetes, nephritis (kidney inflammation or infection), high blood pressure, and arthritis. Yang’s family applied for medical parole in December 2012. Prison authorities rejected this request in early January 2013, saying that his chronic illnesses can be treated in prison. Yang was hospitalized the next month, however, and authorities still refused to release him. His family also reported that Nanjing Prison spends just 3 yuan per prisoner each month on medical expenses. Yang had previously been in critical condition in prison and was taken to a hospital in September 2009. On October 27, Yang’s sister visited him and said that he had become so thin that he was unrecognizable. His family applied for Yang’s release on medical parole, but the request was denied in 2010.


Mr. Zhu Yufu (朱虞夫) – Coronary heart disease, cerebral vascular sclerosis, lumbar disk herniation, hypertension, high cholesterol
Date of Birth: February 13, 1953
Place of Detention: Zhejiang Provincial No. 4 Prison, Hangzhou City, Zhejiang Province

Zhu Yufu, a veteran democracy activist, has been serving a seven-year sentence for “inciting subversion of state power” since 2012.

Zhu suffers from a number of conditions, some of which were brought about by torture or exacerbated by prison conditions. Authorities have rejected or ignored his family’s numerous requests for medical parole, including one from his wife Zhang Hangli (姜杭丽) shortly after he was arrested. Zhu discovered in the 1990s that he had vascular hypertrophy (thickening of vascular walls in the heart), arteriosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), and coronary heart disease. In March 2012, Zhu Yufu suffered a sudden onset of cerebral vascular sclerosis (narrowing of blood vessels in the brain) after prison guards tortured him. In November 2012, Zhu was only able to walk by leaning up against a wall for support. A coronary artery tumor, lumbar disc herniation, and hypertension—all exacerbated during previous incarcerations—continued to go untreated. He has become emaciated due to malnutrition.

Zhu’s wife had observed during a prison visit in April 2013 that his head was swollen, and Zhu stressed to her that he feared that he would not survive much longer in prison because of his declining health. She also reported his health declined in part due to deprivations and abuses that had occurred in retaliation for his family’s trip to the United States, during which they sought support for his release. In May 2013, he reportedly had several fainting spells due to physical weakness, and in December his wife made her fourth application for release on medical parole, which she sent to several different provincial government offices in addition to the prison. His wife has faced reprisals for demanding his release, and has been threatened by police not to discuss her husband’s health conditions. During a recent visit in January 2014, family members found that Zhu suffers from regular headaches and high blood pressure. Authorities reportedly told the family not to apply for medical parole again, as it would be “useless,” but they applied anyway. After they received the application, prison authorities gave Zhu an electrocardiogram and blood pressure test, then told the family that he didn’t meet the “conditions for medical parole.”


——— Released (listed in order of release date, starting with most recent) ———

Ms. Huang Yan (黄燕) – Cancer, diabetes
Date of birth: November 26, 1969
Place of detention: Shunde District Detention Center, Foshan City, Guangdong Province (released)

Shunde District police initially criminally detained Huang on November 27, 2015, on suspicion of “deliberately disseminating terrorist information” before formally arresting her on suspicion of “obstructing official duties” on December 31. On September 21, 2016, Huang was released, but continued to face deprivation of medical outside of detention due to pressure from authorities.

Huang was suffering from diabetes and cancer when she was first detained. Prior to being seized in 2015, she had undergone one surgery and two rounds of chemotherapy for her severe health problems; however, doctors at a Beijing hospital had recommended that she have yet another surgery and go through three more rounds of chemotherapy—medical interventions that she did not receive in custody. She was first granted a visit with her lawyer Liu Zhengqing (刘正清) on December 2, 2015, during which he learned she had gone on a hunger strike in protest over attempts by the police to force her to confess. (Huang has gone on two hunger strikes to protest her detention: once for seven days in November-December 2015 and the second time for 15 days in January 2016.) In reprisal for her shouting political slogans in detention, guards have refused to let her bathe, shackled her, hit her, and refused to let her take medication. Huang had previously been tortured in detention in the mid-2000s in reprisal for her support of persecuted lawyer Gao Shizheng (高智晟).

According to her husband, Wu Guisheng (吴桂生), her physical condition significantly deteriorated by late February 2016, and he expressed concern at the time that she may die in detention if she did not receive adequate medical care. Her eyesight had become so poor she could barely see, a direct result of the diabetes, and she had trouble walking. Wu reported that she was not getting effective treatment for cancer, and he and her lawyer applied for Huang’s release on medical bail. Following a March 2 visit, lawyer Liu reported her health was very poor, with complications arising from ineffective treatment of diabetes, including problems with her foot and her skin. He said that, despite her late-stage cancer, guards were forcing her to wear shackles. She had lost approximately 15 kilograms by this point.

During a visit on April 7, 2016, Huang told her lawyer, Shang Baojun (尚宝军), that she had recently undergone a medical examination which showed that the cancer had spread. She asserted that she had not been able to get adequate medical treatment in the detention facility, and that she thought her situation was critical. Though the detention center refused to provide Huang’s family a copy of her medical records, police gave lawyer Shang a formal refusal of a medical bail request. Dated April 3, 2016, the notice stated she did not qualify for medical release on the grounds that she may “collude” in criminal activity with someone on the outside.

Following her September 2016 release, Huang was examined at Sun Yat-sen University No. 1 Hospital in Guangzhou, with doctors creating a treatment plan on November 2, which included surgery on November 4 to be followed by chemotherapy. However, on the morning on November 3, doctors told Huang that the surgery was cancelled and she should leave the hospital. The next morning, she was again told by a doctor to leave the hospital, who reportedly told her that the head of the hospital said she could not receive the surgery and must immediately leave. The doctor told her there was nothing they could do, as the orders had come from the provincial government.


Mr. Chen Kegui (陈克贵) – Appendicitis
Date of Birth: June 10, 1979
Place of Detention: Linyi Prison, Shandong Province (released)

Chen Kegui, the nephew of activist Chen Guangcheng (陈光诚), served a 39-month sentence for “intentional injury.” He was released on July 29, 2015 at the end of his sentence. His alleged assault is tied to the events surrounding his uncle’s escape from house arrest in April 2012, as authorities have severely retaliated against Chen Guangcheng’s family.

Chen Kegui is suffering from appendicitis and authorities have repeatedly refused the family’s requests for medical parole. On April 24, 2013, Chen informed his parents he had been diagnosed with appendicitis by the prison doctor, and was being treated with antibiotics but was in pain. The next day, the family requested Chen’s release to receive medical treatment outside of prison, which was rejected and officials refused to accept an application for medical parole. An ultrasound conducted in late April 2013 showed his appendix was inflamed and filled with pus. His mother Ren Zongju (任宗举) visited him in prison in December 2013, and said that he was clutching his abdomen and sweating profusely, and his complexion looked very bad. On January 2, 2014, the family again submitted an application for Chen’s release on medical grounds, but prison authorities refused to accept it.


Ms. Gao Yu (高瑜) – heart disease, high blood pressure, Meniere’s disease (an inner ear condition), chronic skin allergy, tenosynovitis
Date of birth – 1944
Place of detention – Beijing No. 1 Detention Center (released on medical parole)

Veteran dissident journalist Gao Yu was sentenced to seven years in prison on charges of “illegally disseminating state secrets overseas” in April 2015. Gao was convicted of leaking a Communist Party directive against “universal values” referred to as Document No. 9. On November 26, Gao Yu was released on medical parole following the appeal ruling that upheld her conviction but reduced her sentence to five years.

Gao Yu was 70 at the time she was taken into police custody in April 2014, and already suffering from a number of ailments. Her health has worsened since then, in part because police interrogated her almost everyday for the first two months of her detention and due to detention center conditions; she reported to her lawyers she frequently catches colds. Her lawyer Shang Baojun (尚宝军) reported she had been hospitalized in late February to early March 2015 due to a gastrointestinal disease caused by unsanitary food in the detention center. He reported she was on a drip for three days and in late March was still suffering from inflammation in her digestive system.

In June 2015, her lawyers reported that she is suffering from regular and severe heart pains, but has only received traditional Chinese medicine, and that she has a worsening chronic skin allergy. She continues to receive daily medication for high blood pressure. In July, she reportedly told her son that her left arm was numb. The detention center hospital diagnosed her as suffering from tenosynovitis, a tendon inflammation, and gave her painkillers and an anti-inflammatory drug. After a lawyers’ visit on July 28, Gao Yu said she had recently been sent for a hospital check-up. Doctors found blockages in her arteries and a lump in her lymph node but won’t know if it is cancerous unless she has further tests. According to her lawyers, authorities are pressuring her to confess her guilt on television in order to be released. She was also told to dismiss her lawyers Shang and Mo Shaoping (莫少平) but refused. In mid-October, authorities delayed her appeal for the third time, for three months, upon approval from the Supreme People’s Court. Gao reportedly told her lawyer, “Are they planning to keep me in jail until I die?”


Mr. Hada (哈达) – Depression, unknown kidney condition, coronary heart disease, stomach ulcer, rheumatoid arthritis
Date of birth: November 29, 1955
Place of detention: black jail in Jin Ye Ecological Technical Gardens, Hohhot, Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region (released)

Hada, a Mongolian scholar and activist, served a 15-year sentence for “splittism” and “espionage” that ended on December 10, 2010. However, authorities continued to detain him in an illegal “black jail” until December 9, 2014. Authorities had also seized his wife Xinna (新娜) and son Uiles (威勒斯) on trumped-up charges of “illegal business activity” and “illegal drug possession,” respectively. After 16 months in detention, Xinna was sentenced to 3 years in prison in 2012 but released days later. Both she and Uiles are under “residential surveillance.”

Hada has heart disease, a serious stomach ulcer, rheumatoid arthritis, an unknown kidney condition, and depression. He suffered years of torture and mistreatment while in Chifeng Prison in Inner Mongolia, and was denied proper medical care. Under his current form of arbitrary detention, his family reported that guards are exploiting his loneliness and depression, and it is unclear if he is receiving adequate medical treatment for his other conditions. Upon his release in December, Hada and Xinna gave a series of interviews to the Southern Mongolian Human Rights Information Center.

In March 2014, his wife Xinna described him as being in “poor health.” He is being held in a single room and his depression has reportedly worsened. Xinna also reported that the guards have been giving him large quantities of alcohol, apparently in an attempt to cause further mental instability. This situation was first reported in January 2012 after a visit by his mother-in-law. Hada’s uncle Haschuluu reported after a brief visit in April 2012 that Hada had an unknown kidney condition, which was causing frequent urination. It was reported in October 2012 that Hada’s depression was very severe, with a doctor suggesting he be transferred to a psychiatric hospital, but authorities did not allow it. While in Chifeng Prison from 1996-2010, Hada was subjected to a wide range of mistreatment and torture; he was held in solitary confinement, handcuffed overnight to a metal board with shackles, prohibited from talking to others, given only limited contact with his family, forced to work over 10 hours of hard labor every day, beaten by other inmates on orders from prison guards, and forced to eat inedible food, causing him to vomit frequently.

Xinna also suffers from a heart condition. When she was arrested in 2010, she reported her condition worsened and authorities denied her a visit to a doctor, but gave her medication that she could not identify. After she was released in 2012, she was finally allowed to see a doctor. She still has chest pains and takes medication.


Mr. Huang Zerong ( aka Tie Liu 铁流) – High blood pressure, blood clot, prostate illness, urinary frequency
Date of Birth: May 29, 1933
Place of Detention: Chengdu City Detention Centre (released)

A Chengdu court convicted Tie Liu of “illegal business activity” on February 25, 2015, handing down a two-and-a-half years in prison, suspended for four years, and issued him a fine of 30,000 RMB (approx. $4,900). He was released after the trial.

Tie Liu has been treated at the emergency unit of the Red Cross Hospital in Beijing after fainting and suffering from incontinence following overnight interrogations. During a visit on September 26, Tie Liu told lawyers Zhou Shifeng (周世峰) and Liu Xiaoyuan (刘晓原) that he had been interrogated at least three times for 12 hours, from 10 pm to 10 am. Already in poor health due to old age and over 20 years spent in labor camps, Tie said that his physical condition has become even worse during his current detention. While detained, his lawyers applied for Tie’s release on bail, but authorities rejected the request.


Mr. Lü Jiaping (加平) – Heart attack, coronary heat disease, diabetes, gallstones
Date of Birth: June 14, 1941
Place of Detention: Shaoyang City Prison, Hunan Province (released on medical parole)

Lü Jiaping, a dissident scholar of military history, has been serving a 10-year sentence for “inciting subversion of state power” since 2011. On February 17, 2015 authorities released Lü on medical parole.

Lü suffers from several illnesses, including coronary heart disease, diabetes, gallstones, and diseases in his lungs (bronchiectasis) and spine (spinal bone hyperplasia). He suffered a heart attack in late 2011, and was rushed to a hospital in handcuffs and leg shackles. He has been transferred to a prison hospital on at least two occasions—once in September 2012 and again in January 2013, but was subsequently returned to the prison. Reportedly, his illnesses have become more serious and he now suffers from avascular necrosis in the top of his femur bone, according to his son Yu Haochen (于浩宸), who visited Lü in June 2014. He is also losing his hearing and memory, and prison authorities are no longer allowing Lü time outside for fresh air, according to Yu. Lü has had great difficulty sleeping, standing, and walking, and has reportedly fallen several times. His family’s requests for his release on medical parole from both Beijing and Shaoyang authorities have been repeatedly denied. In early June 2012, more than 1,000 people expressed support for his medical parole through a signature campaign. His wife and son have been have been repeatedly harassed by police in reprisal for their efforts to obtain Lü’s release.


Mr. Pu Zhiqiang (浦志) – Diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, prostatitis
Date of Birth: January 17, 1965
Place of Detention: Beijing No. 1 Detention Center (released on suspendend sentence)

Pu Zhiqiang, a human rights lawyer and partner at the Huayi Law Firm in Beijing, was convicted on December 22, 2015 of “creating a disturbance” and “enciting ethnic hatred” and given a three year suspendend prison sentenced.

Pu suffers from medical conditions, including diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and prostatitis (an infection of the prostate that, if left untreated, can spread to other parts of the body, including the kidneys, and possibly lead to organ failure). Officials confiscated his medication when he arrived at the detention facility in Beijing, and he was later offered pills that he did not recognize. Pu’s lawyer Zhang Sizhi (张思之) visited his client on June 9, 2014, and Pu said he has now been given some treatment for diabetes, including insulin, but that his legs are swollen, a typical sign that a diabetic patient is not being properly treated. He also told Zhang that he has been subjected to interrogation for 10 hours a day, which is likely only to worsen his health. Zhang visited Pu again in July, and reported that Pu’s conditions have led to a general swollenness. Zhang has sought Pu’s release on medical grounds multiple times, with the second application denied on June 9 on the grounds that Pu would “pose a danger to society” if released, and the third application in July also rejected. Pu was taken to a hospital on August 15, 2015 due to shortness of breath and was given traditional Chinese medicine before being released. His lawyer Shang Baojun (尚宝军) visited him two days later and reported his health is not good, including worsening of his prostatitis, not being able to sleep, and high blood sugar.


Mr. Ren Ziyuan (任自元) – Tuberculosis
Date of Birth: October 28, 1979
Place of Detention: Shandong Provincial No. 1 Prison (released)

Ren Ziyuan, a dissident from Shandong Province, served a 10-year sentence for “inciting subversion of state power” since 2006. He was released on June 9, 2015 at the end of his sentence.

In prison, Ren has been tortured, beaten, and denied medical treatment, causing his health to greatly deteriorate. The severe torture caused fractures to Ren’s vertebra and nose, along with many other injuries. Ren’s family requested medical parole but it was rejected. His family members were last allowed to visit him in March 2010, when his father learned that Ren had contracted tuberculosis but was not getting proper medical treatment and had become very thin. Since then, his family have not been allowed any contact with him and the most recent piece of information they received was in 2012 – from a recently released prisoner that said Ren had been put into solitary confinement. His father has since passed away, but his mother continues to try and visit him in prison, and was most recently turned away in December 2013.


Mr. Wang Kouma (王扣) – Hypertension, brainstem infarctions (stroke)
Date of Birth: July 17, 1954
Place of Detention: Shanghai Municipal General Prison Hospital (released)

Wang Kouma, an activist from Shanghai, served a 30-month sentence for “creating a disturbance” and was released on March 24, 2015 at the end of his sentence.

Wang began serving his sentence in a prison hospital due to his critical health conditions, but his family feared his life may be in danger and that he did not received adequate treatment. Wang suffers from hypertension and had a stroke, or brainstem infarction, caused by an obstruction of blood to his brainstem. Wang is disabled as a result of the stroke. His health situation was so serious that he needed to be hooked up to an oxygen tank in order to appear in court in September 2013. One of his lawyers reported after a visit in December 2013 that Wang was bedridden and on an intravenous drip, and his overall health condition is dire. Doctors in the Shanghai prison hospital where he was held diagnosed him with multiple infarctions in his brainstem. Wang’s daughter submitted an application for medical parole on December 9, 2013, but local authorities did not respond to the request.


Mr. Xie Fulin (谢福林) – Heart disease, hypertension, stomach illness, cerebral haemorrhage
Date of Birth: June 20, 1950
Place of Detention: Changsha Prison, Hunan Province (released)

Xie Fulin, a democracy activist and Charter 08 signatory, has been serving a six-year sentence since 2010 on a concocted charge of “larceny,” a punishment believed to be government retaliation for his activism. Seized in 2009, he was released at the end of his sentence on July 23, 2015.

Xie suffers from a number of serious illnesses, and both he and his wife fear he will not survive to the end of his sentence. Xie suffers from hypertension (high blood pressure), heart disease and an unknown stomach ailment. He also reportedly suffered a cerebral haemorrhage caused by inadequate treatment for his high blood pressure in 2013. Since mid-2013, authorities at Changsha Prison have reportedly expressed a willingness to grant him medical parole; however, according to his family, government officials from Furong District, Changsha, and a local politics and law committee have blocked his release, most recently in April 2014.

In May 2010, a doctor at the Changsha Municipal Detention Center informed Xie’s wife Jin Yan (金焰) that Xie was suffering from dangerously high blood pressure, and the doctor asked Jin to bring her husband medication. During a visit later that month, Xie’s lawyer Ma Gangquan (马纲权) noted Xie’s hands and feet were swollen and discolored. Shortly after, Xie suffered from fainting spells. In March 2011, Jin Yan visited her husband at Changsha Prison and found that his body was swollen, and he was frequently experiencing sharp chest pains because he was unable to obtain effective treatment for his heart disease or high blood pressure. Visits by Jin in September and December of 2011 revealed that these illnesses had worsened, and that he had also developed intestinal problems due to poor nutrition. In the summer of 2011, an application for Xie to be released on medical parole was rejected, with prison authorities refusing it on the grounds that “higher authorities have not approved.”

Since January 2012, Jin Yan has reportedly not been allowed to bring medicine to her husband. The next month, Jin noted Xie was so weak that three individuals were needed to carry him out of his cell for her visit with him. Xie again told her that his illnesses were getting worse and reiterated that authorities refused to provide him with adequate medical care. However, prison officials have reportedly pressured Xie to admit his guilt, and if he does so, they told him that his sentence might be reduced, but he has refused. His condition became so grave that prison authorities finally took him to a hospital for treatment on May 8, 2013. He suffered a cerebral haemorrhage and blood vessels in his eyeballs ruptured, both symptoms of untreated hypertension, and he was unable to eat for several days.

Changsha Prison authorities have also subjected Xie to violence, or refused to protect him from attacks. In early November 2010, another inmate attacked Xie, and prison officials took no action against the assailant. The attack caused Xie to suffer an episode of chest pains for which he spent four days receiving treatment in the prison hospital. In May 2011, a prison guard dragged Xie down a flight of stairs, after which he had to spend the night in the prison infirmary.


Mr. Karma Tsewang (堪布才旺) – Hepatitis, Bacterial tracheitis, tuberculosis
Date of Birth: unknown (age 38 at time of detention)
Place of Detention: Chamdo Public Security Bureau Detention Center, Tibet Autonomous Region (released)

Karma Tsewang, also known as Khenpo Kartse, is a senior monk from the Yulshul (CH: Yushu) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in Qinghai Province, served a 30 month prison sentence after being sentenced in secret in the summer of 2014. He was released in July 2016.

Karma Tsewang suffers from hepatitis, bacterial tracheitis, tuberculosis, and other diseases that require medical care and attention, but he has been denied treatment and necessary medication. After entering detention, he began suffering from severe back pain and began ejecting bloody sputum. Due to Karma Tsewang’s numerous medical conditions, his lawyer applied for release on bail after a visit on February 26, 2014, but authorities turned down the request, claiming that the case relates to “state stability.” Subjected to other inhumane punishment, Karma Tsewang reportedly is being held in a cell that does not receive sunlight, eats only one meal a day, and is not allowed to bathe.


Mr. Yu Shiwen (于世文) – Cardiovascular disease, stroke, high blood pressure, depression
Date of birth: October 16, 1967
Place of detention: Zhengzhou City No. 3 Detention Center, Henan Province (released into residential surveillance)

Activist Yu Shiwen, was indicted by prosecutors on a charge of “creating a disturbance” in February 2015, following his arrest on July 2, 2014 for holding a commemoration event of the 25th anniversary of the June Fourth Massacre. Held for two years without trial, Yu was released on “residential surveillance” at home in August 2016.

Yu Shiwen has suffered from congenital cardiovascular disease and hypertension since his 30s, as well as depression, according to his wife Chen Wei (陈卫). Yu Shiwen had managed his illnesses with medication, but after police first took him into custody in late May they did not provide any of his necessary medication. In July, Yu Shiwen suffered a stroke and his lower body became severely swollen and he developed urinary problems. He was sent to the detention center’s hospital immediately. The hospital admitted Yu for treatment for several months, but his hands and feet were shackled to his bed. In October, when the detention center’s hospital ended its operation, Yu and other hospitalized detainees were transferred to another hospital. At the new facility, Yu was further restricted in his movements, as detention officials had kept him shackled by his hands and feet to the bed almost all the time. His protest against the mistreatment went unheeded. By mid-November, Yu decided to end his treatment.

After the stroke, according to his wife, the detention center only provided very limited medicine because most of the drugs Yu needs are costly, yet the detention center refused to accept medicine sent by his family. Both his wife and lawyers, Zhang Xuezhong (张雪忠) and Ma Lianshun (马连顺), applied for release on medical bail in early October, but these requests were repeatedly denied or went unanswered. On April 10, 2015, authorities again rejected an application for release on medical bail, saying his conditions were not at the level of seriousness as proscribed under the law.

Yu Shiwen’s wife believes there is an extremely high risk that Yu will suffer another stroke, given the lack of adequate medicine and treatment, and his past medical history. In 2012, Yu suffered a stroke and was hospitalized again in 2013. Chen is deeply concerned about her husband’s health because several of Yu’s family members have died from the same heart diseases that Yu Shiwen suffers from. She is also worried about his mental health because Yu suffers from depression and she suspects the condition has worsened since his detention.


Mr. Zhang Lin (张林) – Unknown eye infection, cervical spondylosis, disabled right leg, odontopathy
Date of Birth: June 2, 1963
Place of Detention: Bengbu City No. 1 Detention Center, Anhui Province (released)

Zhang Lin, a democracy activist, has been detained since July 2013. Tried on charges of “gathering a crowd to disrupt order of a public place” in December 2013, a court in Anhui Province sentenced him in August 2014 to 3.5 years in prison. Released in August 2016.

Zhang is suffering from ill health as a result of torture and mistreatment he suffered during years of detention. He has cervical spondylosis, a painful condition caused by the degeneration of joints in the vertebrae, and odontopathy (dental disease). Zhang is also unable to bend his right leg. According to his daughters, he has also developed an infection in his left eye in detention that is threatening his vision, and it is unclear what kind of treatment he has received for it. Zhang’s lawyer Liu Xiaoyuan (刘晓原) applied for his release on bail in July 2013, but the application was turned down on the grounds that Zhang would be a “danger to society” if he were released. Liu made a second request in August in order to for Zhang to take care of his two young daughters and in light of his illnesses, but that request was also turned down.

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