Political Prisoner Yang Maodong’s Health Deteriorating, Family Seek Urgent Action to Save His Life

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Political Prisoner Yang Maodong’s Health Deteriorating, Family Seek Urgent Action to Save His Life

Alert: Imprisoned Activist Yang Maodong’s Poor Health Worsening From Mistreatment & Denied Medical Care

The health of imprisoned Guangdong activist Yang Maodong (杨茂东) has worsened to the point where his life may be in danger without prompt and proper medical treatment, according to his sister, a trained doctor. Her alarming observations come less than a month after CHRD sent an update to UN human rights experts about Yang’s (also known by his pen name Guo Feixiong 郭飞雄) poor physical condition. See full text below or read the communication on CHRD’s website. Yang’s serious health problems are believed to be due to torture and cruel and inhumane treatment that he has been subjected to since initially being detained in August 2013. His family are calling on Chinese authorities to release Yang, who has been imprisoned in violation of his rights to free expression and assembly, and allow him to access necessary medical treatment from a doctor of his own choosing.

Yang Maodong’s sister Yang Maoping (杨茂平) revealed that her brother’s physical condition has turned critical following a visit on April 26 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.

Yang Maodong is serving a six-year prison sentence after being convicted in November 2015 on two charges. He spent 15 months in pre-trial detention before his November 2014 trial, and he was denied outdoor time for more than two-and-a-half years in detention. Yang’s current health condition is an apparent consequence of a pattern of systematic abuse of incarcerated human rights rights defenders. Depriving medical treatment to individuals in custody is a life-threatening form of torture. Yang’s supporters fear that if no adequate and effective treatment is provided immediately, the activist could follow the tragic fate of Cao Shunli (曹顺利), who died in custody in March 2014 due to denied medical treatment.

Appendix: CHRD Communication to UN human rights mechanisms (April 1, 2016):

Working Group on Arbitrary Detention

Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association 

Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression

Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment

Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders

Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers

Special Rapporteur on the right to health


After Yang Maodong was transferred to Yangchun (阳春) Prison in Guangdong Province on February 21, 2016, prison authorities continued to mistreat Yang, in violation of domestic regulations and international standards, in addition to denying a request from Yang’s family to provide Yang a comprehensive health examination. After a family visit on February 29 (only the second such visit since Yang’s initial detention in 2013), Yang’s 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. Yang informed his sister that 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. The activist also told her that he experienced great difficulty in standing up (issues with his lower body were also noted in previous communications). Yang Maoping believes there are problems with her brother’s lumbar spine, symptoms resulting from previous mistreatment and long-term calcium deficiency (Yang had been denied outdoor time during his entire detention at Tianhe District Detention Center, from August 2013 to February 2016). Yang’s sister told prison authorities that she would pay for a comprehensive health examination for Yang, but officials denied her request.

Throughout Yang Maoping’s visit, prison authorities were present and had monitored the whole exchange, a situation that applies psychological pressure on both the prisoner and his sister. On multiple occasions, officials even interrupted conversations between Yang and his sister. At one point, an officer asserted that Yang Maodong would be required to work, but Yang’s sister argued that his physical health puts in no condition to enable him to perform labor. In addition, Yang’s overall worsening health is exacerbated by the fact that there is no surveillance camera in his prison cell, causing him to worry greatly and dread the possibility of unaccounted acts of violence and abuse from both guards and fellow inmates. Yang Maodong was severely tortured while imprisoned from 2006-2011, and he is deeply concerned that if he is subjected to similar acts of torture, perpetrators would not be held accountable. He firmly expressed to Yang Maoping that he would not commit suicide.

The mistreatment of Yang Maodong not only has violated many principles under the “Body of Princes for the Protection of All Persons under Any Form of Detention or Imprisonment,” including Principle 24, but also rules and regulations under Chinese law. According to Article 37 of China’s amended Criminal Procedure Law, recording or monitoring conversations between lawyers and incarcerated clients is forbidden. However, Chinese authorities continued to perpetrate the unlawful practice of monitoring, such as during the most recent meeting between Yang and his lawyers, on March 22, 2016. Yang’s lawyers also noticed the activist appearing extremely pale, and they are worried about his deteriorating health. According to “The Administrative Measures for Life and Sanitation of Prison Inmates” (drafted by China’s Ministry of Justice in 2010 and subsequently put into trial phase), newly-incarcerated prisoners are given physical health examinations, and all prisoners are given periodic physical check-ups. Another set of regulations pertaining to physical examination at detention facilities have not been enforced in Yang Maodong’s case—the “Regulations on Administrative Detention Facilities,” which also guarantees that a detainee is entitled to medical care.

Past Reports of Mistreatment and Torture

Update to UN on case of Guo Feixiong – July 14, 2015

Submission to UN on Guo Feixiong, February 5, 2014, CHRD

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