China Change, June 30, 2016
A Recap of Guo Feixiong’s Arrest, Sentencing, and Treatment in Prison
Guo Feixiong was arrested on August 13, 2013, for his role in the Southern Weekly protest at the beginning of that year, and his campaign to demand that China ratify the The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which China signed in 1998 but has never ratified. He was tried in November 2014, but it wasn’t until a year later that a sentence was announced. To deliver a harsher sentence, the court, in an unprecedented and preposterous move, added a second charge at the last minute of the trial, and Guo was sentenced to 6 years in prison for “gathering a crowd to disrupt order in a public place” and “provoking disturbances.” During the 51 months in Tianhe Detention Center in Guangzhou, he was never allowed yard time. China Change called the inhumane treatment “a deliberate effort to harm Guo Feixiong and kill him slowly.”
Early this year he was sent to the remote Yangchun Prison to serve the remainder of his sentence. For months he had blood in his stool, and his mouth bled. He was hardly able to stand after leaving his cell to meet his visiting sister. Both Guo Feixiong and the sister, who is herself a doctor, asked that Guo be given a medical checkup and treatment. A prison official known as Secretary Liu (刘干事) told the sister: “We’ll call an ambulance if he faints.”
With no choice, in April Guo Feixiong’s sister publicized details of Guo Feixiong’s health condition and his treatment in prison. The activist community reacted strongly with a signature campaign calling for his release, and several hundreds have since taken part in a hunger strike relay.
Under pressure, the prison gave Guo Feixiong a physical checkup. At the same time, it used the occasion to dehumanize him. On May 9, he was forced to take a rectal exam, with a high-ranking official from the Guangdong Prison Administration Bureau videotaping the process and threatening to post it online. They shaved his head and required him to “squat like a bug in the presence of prison guards.”
On the same day (May 9), Guo Feixiong began a hunger strike to protest that treatment. Among his demands are the abolition of use of electric batons against prisoners, and the ratification of the ICCPR. In his meeting with his sister on June 13, he asked her to write to Li Jingyan (李景言), the chief of the Guangdong Prison Administration Bureau, requesting a prison transfer.
The Lawyers’ Latest Visit
On the afternoon of June 20, Guo Feixiong’s lawyers for imprisoned, Zhang Lei and Li Jinxing, traveled to the Yangchun Prison and met with him for 45 minutes. The parties were separated by glass, and a total of eight police stood close by. Guo has become extremely emaciated and weak, the lawyers said, compared to the last time they saw him on May 6. The lawyer conveyed the exhortations of Guo’s wife and family to cease his hunger strike.
His older sister Yang Maoping, as well as his wife Zhang Qing, had previously urged Guo to stop his hunger struck in letters that were submitted to the prison and given to Guo.
He thanked everyone’s good intentions and concern, but said that the prison has not ceased humiliating him and refused to meet his demands, and that he’ll continue the hunger strike. He said that he’s carrying out the hunger strike with utter seriousness, that it was a decision he thought through very carefully, and that it was a form of protest and resistance in the furtherance of his ideals. He said that even if he dies, it would be in the process of demanding that the ratification of the ICCPR — it would be a worthy death.
Lawyer Zhang Lei told Radio Free Asia that he’s highly anxious about Guo’s state and that a compromise to the satisfaction of all parties can be reached as soon as possible.
On Guo’s Letter of Appeal
Guo and his lawyers also spoke about his Letter of Appeal, a 29,000-word document that he prepared in response to his sentencing in December 2015. In it, he wrote that the court’s decision was “political persecution by the anti-democratic forces of darkness in China.” The authorities considered this to be an attack on the judicial system, so they wanted to delete that phrase, and also refused to allow Guo to sign it, which would have made it official. Zhang Lei said that he had deleted this particular sentence from the appeal, but the prison still wouldn’t allow it to be submitted. This, he added, didn’t come from the prison. Even the prison didn’t know where it came from, he said.
Guo Feixiong told the lawyers that his appeal “cannot be changed — not a single character of it.” The result was a deadlock.
Zhang Lei said that appeals are a matter for the personal determination of the appellant, and that no one else has the authority to intervene — including the prison, which has no right to censor parts of it.
The two lawyers don’t know the next time they’ll be able to see Guo.
Based on a RFA report of June 27, 2016.