[CHRB] Special Coverage: 4 Cases of Torture in Detention (12/26/2014- 1/8/2015)

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[CHRB] Special Coverage: 4 Cases of Torture in Detention (12/26/2014- 1/8/2015)

China Human Rights Briefing

December 26, 2014 – January 8, 2015


Special Coverage on Torture

  • Beijing: Police Tortured Detained Artist to Extract Information
  • Guangzhou: Hospitalized Activist Li Biyun Recounts Torture in Detention
  • Guangzhou: Torture at the Tianhe Detention Center of Activist Sun Desheng
  • Jiangsu: Psychiatric Detention of Petitioner Since Last September

Special Coverage on Torture

In view of this year’s UN Committee against Torture review of the Chinese government’s implementation of the international Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, CHRD will provide focused reporting and analysis on cases of torture and related law and regulations. In this issue of CHRB, we report on four recent cases of detainees who have been subjected to torture and other ill treatment by police or prison guards. Typical for such cases, authorities have refused to investigate the complaints filed by lawyers, which means that those responsible are unlikely to be brought to justice.

Beijing: Police Tortured Detained Artist to Extract Information

Authorities at a Beijing detention facility tortured 29-year-old artist Wang Zang (王藏), which reportedly led to his suffering a heart attack (image: RDN)

Authorities at a Beijing detention facility tortured 29-year-old artist Wang Zang (王藏), which reportedly led to his suffering a heart attack (image: RDN)

Police in Beijing have subjected artist and poet Wang Zang (王藏) to torture and other forms of mistreatment in detention, according to his lawyer Sui Muqing (隋牧青). The lawyer was allowed to visit Wang for the first time on December 25 since Wang’s detention began on October 1. Police formally arrested the 29-year old Wang on November 6 on suspicion of “creating a disturbance.” Police seized Wang after he posted a photo online to support the Hong Kong pro-democracy protests.

Authorities initially locked up Wang at what appeared to be a military camp, keeping him in a padded room for 15 days and under 24-hour watch by three police officers, purportedly to prevent him from committing suicide. Police then interrogated him for five days and four nights consecutively, depriving Wang of any sleep. During the interrogations, police forced him to stand and beat him up when he fell down. The interrogators tried to force Wang to hand over the passwords for his weibo account and his cell phone. Wang told lawyer Sui that he subsequently suffered a heart attack and passed out. Wang told his lawyer that, prior to being detained, he had no history of heart disease and was generally in good health. “I felt I was going to die at that time,” he said. During interrogations, authorities also asked about his art performances, poetry, and social media postings in support of persecuted activists, lawyers, and political prisoners.

Authorities moved Wang to the Beijing No. 1 Detention Center for the remainder of his 37-day criminal detention and later transferred him to Tongzhou District Detention Center after his formal arrest in November. Police have reportedly threatened Wang’s wife and daughter, driven them out their apartment, since taking him into custody.[1]

Guangzhou: Hospitalized Activist Li Biyun Recounts Torture in Detention

Li Biyun (李碧云), a Guangzhou-based activist, recounted her ordeal of surviving torture in prison from her hospital bed early this week. Authorities released Li on December 17. A few days later, she collapsed and was rushed to the emergency room at a hospital in Guangzhou, likely due to injuries and poor health as the result of abuses and mistreatment during police custody for more than one year. Li, who once challenged CCP-controlled local elections by running as an independent candidate, sustained fractured vertebrae from police beating when she was seized for “obstructing official business” on October 12, 2013.

Li was then held for seven months at the Guangdong Armed Police Corps Hospital until May 21, 2014. There, authorities did not provide her adequate medical treatment and once shackled her to her hospital bed for 10 days, causing bone deformities (see earlier report). Police later transferred Li to Shunde District Detention Center, and the Shunde District People’s Court held a closed trial rife with procedural violations last July. Detention center authorities then retaliated against Li for speaking out against the judge at her trial; they refused to give her medical treatment and instructed other inmates to attack her, which caused nerve damage. On December 17, 2014, the Shunde District People’s Court convicted Li in secret, but issued no sentence and ordered her release. On the same day, police drove her out of the detention center and dumped her on the roadside with her hands tied behind her and a hood placed over her head.

At the hospital, Li’s condition is poor. She continues to have difficulty speaking and opening her eyes. For many years, authorities have harassed Li in retaliation for her activism, including imprisoning her in 2009 and holding her in black jails several times.[2]

Guangzhou: Torture at the Tianhe Detention Center of Activist Sun Desheng

Guangzhou activist Sun Desheng (孙德胜)’s health has worsened due to continued torture and mistreatment by police at the Tianhe District Detention Center, according to his lawyer Chen Jinxue (陈进学), who visited Sun on January 5. At the detention center, authorities have subjected Sun to beatings and once tied up his arms and legs for 15 days as “punishment” for supposedly “breaking” a rule.  Sun, who now has serious arthritis, was frequently forced to stand or sit in silence while facing a wall for long periods of time. Guards have also exposed him to extreme cold conditions. When the lawyer saw Sun during the Guangzhou winter, which is cold and damp, Sun only had a sweater and a thin blank, which guards had threatened to take away. Detention center officials also refused to accept warm clothes sent by his family. Sun, who was tried alongside Guo Feixiong (郭飞雄) in November 2014 (see CHRD’s statement), has been held since August 2013 after being detained in the crackdown on peaceful assembly, association, and expression.

Sun’s lawyers had previously made a complaint before his November trial about the reported mistreatment to the local procuratorate, which denied the allegations. Lawyer Chen said after the most recent visit that he will file a lawsuit against the detention center since police have not indicated that they will investigate the abuses. Sun once went on a hunger strike and reportedly tried to commit suicide by hitting his head against the wall in protest of his detention and the mistreatment.[3]

Jiangsu: Psychiatric Detention of Petitioner Since Last September

Jiangsu authorities have held petitioner You Baofen (尤宝芬) in a psychiatric facility in Wuxi City since last September, after detaining her and taking her back from Nanjing during the 2014 Youth Summer Olympics (see CHRD’s letter to the IOC on the suppression surrounding the Olympics). Ms. You had gone to Nanjing in August to file a complaint against local officials with the Discipline Inspection Commission (part of the internal party discipline bureaucracy) when police seized her and eventually locked her up in the Qianqiao Psychiatric Hospital. Authorities reportedly pressured her father and sister to sign admittance papers to commit her to the institution. This is the third time Wuxi authorities have retaliated against Ms. You by holding her in a psychiatric institution, and the first since the passage of China’s Mental Health Law (2013) that banned such practices. You Baofen began petitioning in 2009 when her home was demolished and, two years later, she demanded an investigation into the mysterious death of her son after he was held in a “legal education class,” a type of black jail.[4]


Renee Xia, International Director (Mandarin, English), +1 240 374 8937, reneexia@chrdnet.com, Follow on Twitter: @ReneeXiaCHRD

Victor Clemens, Research Coordinator (English), +1 209 643 0539, victorclemens@chrdnet.com

Frances Eve, Research Assistant (English), + 1 646 801 9479, franceseve@chrdnet.com, Follow on Twitter: @FrancesEveCHRD

Follow CHRD on Twitter: @CHRDnet

[1] “Lawyer Sui Muqing: Wang Zang’s ‘Crime” (隋牧青律师:王蔵的“罪行”), December 27, 2014, Rights Defence Network (RDN); “Supporters of Hong Kong Case: Poet Wang Zang Tortured in Detention Center, Xue Ye and Chen Kun Released, 31 Individuals in Detention Across the Country” (声援香港各案:诗人王藏看守所内遭酷刑,薛野、陈堃获释,全国还有31人被关押), December 26, 2014, RDN.

[2] “Guangdong Independent Election Candidate Li Biyun Recounts Excessive ‘Torture’ in Prison” (广东独立候选人李碧云口述狱中遭奇特“酷刑”), January 6, 2015, RDN; “Urgent Alert: Recently Released Activist Li Biyun Treated at Guangzhou Fragrant Village Charitable Hospital” (紧急关注:刚刚出狱的维权人士李碧云在广州芳村慈善医院抢救), January 3, 2015, RDN; “Guangdong Activist Li Biyun ‘Obstructing Official Business’ Case Secretly Sentenced Today; Li Spared From Criminal Penalty and Released From Prison” (广东维权人士李碧云“妨碍公务”案今秘密宣判 免于刑事处罚被送出狱), December 18, 2014, RDN.

[3] “Sun Desheng Mistreated Inside Detention Center, Lawyer Will Sue” (孙德胜看守所内遭酷刑虐待 律师将提控告), January 6, 2015, RDN.

[4] “Wuxi City, Jiangsu Province’s You Baofen Now Held for Over 3 Months in Psychiatric Hospital Because of Petitioning” (江苏无锡尤宝芬因上访被关精神病院已超过三个月), Janury 7, 2015, Civil Rights & Livelihood Watch (CRLW); “Wuxi City Petitioner You Baofen Held in Psychiatric Facility Until Today After Looking For Inspection Group in Nanjing During Olympics ” (无锡访民尤宝芬“青奥会”南京找巡视组被截访关精神病院至今), January 6, 2015, CRLW; “Wuxi City, Jiangsu Province’s You Baofen Detained in Psychiatric Hospital for Third Time” (江苏无锡尤宝芬第三次被关进精神病院), September 21, 2014, CRLW.

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