Detained Chinese Rights Lawyer Tortured Again After Complaining About Torture

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Originally published by Radio Free Asia on 21 September, 2021

Detained Chinese rights lawyer Chang Weiping, who is currently under investigation for “subversion of state power” after he attended a December 2019 gathering of dissidents in the southeastern city of Xiamen, has been tortured again, an overseas rights group said.

Chang, who is currently being held under “residential surveillance at a designated location (RSDL),” was forced to sit in a “tiger chair” for six days straight, as well as being subjected to prolonged sleep deprivation and round-the-clock interrogations, the China Human Rights Defenders (CHRD) network said in a statement on its website.

Authorities in the northern Chinese province of Shaanxi formally arrested Chang on suspicion of “subversion of state power” in May.

Chang had been redetained in October 2020 after he spoke out about being tortured following an earlier detention in connection with a dinner gathering of human rights lawyers, dissidents, and rights activists in the southeastern port city of Xiamen in December 2019.

The charge against him was changed from “incitement to subvert state power,” which carries a maximum jail term of 15 years, to the more serious charge of “subversion of state power,” which has no upper limit on length of custodial sentence.

He has been held since October with no access to a lawyer until Sept. 14, 2021, when his attorney visited him.

Chang told his lawyer that he had been subjected to the “tiger chair,” including one sting of six days and nights, the statement said.

“He was subjected to psychological torment, which he found most difficult to handle. Police frequently lied to him, threatened him, gave him hope and then dashed [it],” it said.

Chang’s wife Chen Zijuan confirmed the report.

“They are still putting him in the tiger chair; the longest time was six days and nights,” she said. “He had pressure sores on his behind and lost feeling in his fingertips.”

“He gets just one mantou per meal, and they’re not letting him sleep or go to the bathroom,” Chen said. “They won’t give him water either.”

Five showers in five months

She said Chang is being held in a room roughly nine square meters in size, sharing it with state security police officers (guobao).

Chang was allowed to shower just five times during his time in RSDL, which on Sept. 14 amounted to five months and 16 days, and is under round-the-clock video surveillance, Chen said.

“They haven’t cut his toenails or fingernails for the entire time, and they wouldn’t let him clean his teeth for the first month he was in there,” she said. “He felt it wasn’t worth being alive in there.”

“They are trying to break him; to torture him into behaving like an obedient dog,” she said.

She said Chang has been forced to make more than 40 statements, all of which are an attempt by state security police to force him to “confess” to the charges against him.

“They want him to use their exact wording; they want to dictate every word to him, and then when he has the lines rehearsed, they will film [the confession],” she said. “That’s the only way they are going to allow him to eat and sleep properly.”

Chen said Chang was in solitary confinement for the first two weeks of RSDL.

“His health has been affected by his time in detention,” she said. “He has blood in his stool and chronic malnutrition because of the lack of fruit and vegetables; he has had mouth sores this whole time.”

During one interrogation on Sept. 8, Chang was warned to be careful what he said to his lawyer, or “suffer the consequences,” according to CHRD’s acccount.

Chen told RFA in an interview in July that the authorities had been using complaints to get rid of lawyers hired by his family, in a bid to have him accept government-appointed lawyers instead.

“I have hired four lawyers so far, and all of them have been subject to malicious complaints against them [and quit],” Chen said. “They said they would cancel the lawyers’ licenses if they didn’t go back to where they came from.”

“I didn’t want to keep changing lawyers; they were persecuted and prevented from acting in the case,” she said.

Chen has also been warned by her employer not to speak out about her husband’s case on pain of dismissal.

CHRD research and advocacy coordinator William Nee said the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP) — which bans torture and inhumane treatment on paper — should have carried out an investigation into Chang’s initial allegations, rather than repeating the torture.

“Chang Weiping bravely told the world on Youtube about his experiences being tortured in RSDL,” Nee said. “The Chinese government should have conducted an impartial investigation into the grave allegations, but instead, predictably, they again put him in secret detention and tortured him.”

“This barbaric act flies in the face of China’s international obligations under the Convention against Torture, and the Chinese government must be held to account,” he said.

Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.

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