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February 16, 2017
Torture has long been a chronic disease plaguing China’s judicial system. It is not only that nearly every case of judicial injustice in China is attended by torture, but that torture is much more widely applied than merely as a means of extracting a confession during the criminal investigation process. It’s often used as a form of humiliation, a torment of the flesh and the spirit simultaneously, with an array of methods that are unrestrained and completely unscrupulous. The goal is to have the captive or internee surrender their minds to the authorities, and so prisons and extra-judicial detention facilities — like Legal Education Bases (or centers), brainwashing classes, and shuanggui facilities — make widespread use of torture. Torture aimed to humiliate is used in a particularly concentrated way on prisoners of conscience.
In particular since the 709 arrests in July 2015, human rights lawyers and defenders have been held in “residential surveillance at a designated location,” the essence of which is identical to forced disappearances. The ad hoc nature of these internment facilities, on top of denial of access to legal counsel, has led to a rapid increase in reports of torture over the last year. When rights lawyer Li Chunfu (李春富) was released on a form of bail recently, he exhibited clear symptoms of mental breakdown; news has also emerged of cruel electric baton torture applied to Li Heping (李和平) and Wang Quanzhang (王全璋); Wu Gan (吳淦) has also made a criminal complaint, through his lawyers, of torture suffered in custody. The human rights lawyer Xie Yang (谢阳), in particular, has narrated the details of atrocious torture he suffered through transcripts made by his legal counsel. The veracity and detail of the cruelty on display is without question, and has caused outrage inside China and abroad. Law societies and human rights groups in dozens of countries have issued denunciations, and the European Union, as well as diplomats from multiple countries stationed in China, have expressed their concern and demanded that the Chinese government conduct an immediate investigation.
What happened to our colleagues can happen to any of us, or any Chinese citizen, for that matter, hence our anxiety, grief, and rage. These human rights defenders represent the conscience of China, and yet in the 18 months of their detention, they’ve been subjected to a dozen types of torture by their own countrymen, a team of over 40 special agents who work in rotation — we simply cannot fathom it: what way is this to treat a country’s own citizens? The fact that the inhuman torture has been simply allowed to take place by the police, openly and without compunction or obstruction, begs the question: what kind of system of justice is this? What kind of political system forces humans into this depravity? What kind of political system allows these criminal torturers to act so wantonly, outside of any restriction or law?
In the face of this blatant torture, our conscience does not allow us to remain silent. We must stand up to censure it, to conquer our own fears and cowardice, and defend basic human dignity.
Together we reiterate the following articles from China’s own Constitution:
Article 33 (paragraph 3): “The State respects and preserves human rights.”
Article 35: “Citizens of the People’s Republic of China enjoy freedom of speech, of the press, of assembly, of association, of procession and of demonstration.”
Article 41: “Citizens of the People’s Republic of China have the right to criticize and make suggestions regarding any state organ or functionary. Citizens have the right to make to relevant state organs complaints or charges against, or exposures of, any state organ or functionary for violation of the law or dereliction of duty, but fabrication or distortion of facts for purposes of libel or false incrimination is prohibited.”
By implication, the Chinese Constitution prohibits torture. In addition, the National People’s Congress in September 1988 ratified the United Nations’ Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (“United Nations’ Convention Against Torture”) and on November 3, 1988, that convention became effective in China.
It is thus clear that preventing and punishing torture is an unshirkable duty of the government, and a responsibility it must assume.
We believe that prohibiting torture is not only for the purpose of preventing cases of judicial injustice — it is also to grant citizens the protection of not fearing for their lives, and to accord basic dignity towards, and integrity of, their own body and minds. If, for whatever reason, torture is tolerated, then everyone in China — including police, prosecutors, judges, and currently serving or former Party and government officials — are themselves also at risk of becoming victims.
We believe that the torture of one is the torture of all, and that to strike terror in one is to strike terror in all.
We believe that every individual, including those who have truly committed crimes, should be treated with humanity and not be subject to torture. The prohibition of torture is the fundamental ground of a modern, civilized judiciary, and is a basic dividing line between civilization and barbarism.
For all these reasons, we the undersigned, on the basis of China’s Constitution, the UN Convention Against Torture, and a sense of common justice for Chinese citizens and humanity, hereby establish the “China Anti-Torture Alliance.”
The Alliance will be a community based on the aforementioned shared beliefs, without a formal organizational structure. It is open to all, without respect to nationality or other attachments, and may be joined or withdrawn from at will.
All kind and upstanding citizens inside or outside China, who cherish peace and seek to safeguard human rights, are welcome to join our ranks, and to reject torture wherever it appears. Our goal is to promote and supervise the actual implementation of the United Nation’s Convention Against Torture in China.
Those who wish to join the Alliance can express their wish to do so to any of the founders of the initiative, or by sending an email to the official electronic mail address of the Alliance. Please include your first and last name, your occupation, location, and other contact information, to facilitate contact.
February 7, 2017
Teng Biao (滕彪), lawyer, United States
Yu Wensheng (余文生), lawyer, Beijing
Liu Shihui, lawyer (刘士辉), Guangdong
Chen Guangcheng (陈光诚), legal activist, United States
Hu Jia, (胡佳), citizen, Beijing
Ding Jiaxi (丁家喜), lawyer, Beijing
Yuan Xiaohua (袁小华), citizen, Hunan
Chen Jianxiong (陈剑雄), citizen, Hubei
Sun Desheng (孙德胜), citizen, Hubei
Liang Bo (梁波), reporter, United States
Chen Jiangang (陈建刚), lawyer, Beijing
Wang Zang (王藏), poet, Beijing
Alliance email address:
Editors’ note: As of now, over 800 Chinese lawyers and human rights defenders have signed to join the Alliance. Check out the signing sheet here: https://docs.google.com/document/d/14jjifjhzVdSZ1IhqYTvXjlk02ithQ15PdvCgaOBB8aw/pub
Translated by China Change.
January 25, 2017
Lawyer Li Heping (李和平) is one of China’s earliest human rights lawyers and no stranger to torture. In an interview with the artist Ai Weiwei in 2010, he recounted how he was abducted one day in 2007 by Chinese domestic security police, beaten savagely, and thrown onto a hill outside Beijing in the middle of the night. In recent years he ran an anti-torture education program in Beijing, which was likely the reason for his arrest, along with scores of other lawyers, in July 2015, in what is now known as the “709 Incident.” Last week, lawyer Chen Jiangang (陈建刚) published his interviews with lawyer Xie Yang (谢阳) detailed horrific torture the latter was subjected to during a period of “residential surveillance at a designated place” and at the detention center, yesterday the Hong Kong-based Chinese Human Rights Concern Group said that it learned from sources that Li Heping and Wang Quanzhang (王全璋) were tortured by being shocked with electricity. Both have been in custody for over 500 days without access to family or their lawyers. We asked a colleague of lawyer Li Heping to tell us more about the anti-torture work Li engaged in, which has now likely brought torture upon Li himself. The author of the article wishes to remain anonymous. — The Editors
China, among all countries, has one of the longest histories of the use of torture. In contemporary China, torture is most often understood as merely a part of the interrogation process in criminal cases. This is directly related to the fact that the concept of “torture” as defined in the international criminal context has no clear domestic legal definition in China. In fact, the United Nations’ Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, which China ratified in 1986, defines torture broadly: it includes the application of physical or psychological torture by public officials for the purpose of gaining information or confessions, and it also includes torture for the purpose of threatening, menacing, or discriminating against victims. All these forms of torture can have severely negative impacts on the body and minds of victims. So in China, many people — including lawyers who are steeped in the law — have a limited understanding of torture.
In recent years it has become known to the public that torture has been employed in many criminal cases to procure confessions. Public reports of exonerations — including in the Hugjiltu case in Inner Mongolia, the Nie Shubin case in Hebei, the Yang Ming case in Guizhou — show that in every single case of this kind, torture was used. Clearly, the use of torture is one of the key reasons for these false convictions and grave injustices. If torture is reduced, then the number of unjust and false convictions is also likely to decrease commensurately.
As a way of helping more lawyers better understand torture and equip them with more information about torture, Li Heping and a number of criminal defense lawyers took a leading role in promoting the idea of “Prohibition of Torture” (禁止酷刑). From around 2009, Li and a few other Beijing-based lawyers, began to work with the UK-based NGO The Rights Practice, advocating and promoting inside China the idea of prohibiting torture. This work included organizing small-scale legal salons, large-scale law symposiums, drafting anti-torture handbooks, raising the profile of specific cases of torture, and more.
We began at a fundamental level, discussing the definition of torture in small group setting, then the key articles of The Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. We compared the clauses in the convention to China’s own laws, and in doing so, discovered the problems with Chinese law, and proposed means and strategies for dealing with them.
Through a few years of work, many lawyers who attended these discussions gained a much deeper understanding on the prohibition of torture. The lawyers were able to provide numerous ideas for judicial reforms that would prohibit torture, including changes to the detention center system, the right for lawyers to be present at interrogations of their client, exclusion of illegally-obtained evidence, audio-visual recording of suspect interrogations, and many other institutional safeguards and reforms. Some of these suggestions for reform have already been implemented, while others — like the right for lawyers to be present at interrogation, or the exclusion of illegally-obtained evidence — still require a lot of work at the procedural and practical levels.
Lawyers need to pay constant attention to these issues and continue to promote them. What is gratifying, however, is that many individual cases of convictions obtained via torture in custody ultimately resulted in a commutations or amended, non-guilty judgements, after lawyers began advocating around them.
Of course, the project has not been entirely smooth going. Li Heping and other main participants were subject to long-term pressure from the authorities, and the police regularly called them in for “drinking tea,” threatening and intimidating them. Sometimes the police would warn the lawyers off attending a particular event, or prohibit them from meeting a visiting foreign dignitary, among other demands.
In early 2011, a number of lawyers were among scores of activists who had been forcibly disappeared across the country, and when they were released a few months later, they exposed how they were tortured during their disappearance.
In July 2015, a nationwide campaign targeted human rights lawyers, and Li Heping was among those taken into custody. To this day he still has not been tried. According to publicly available information, a number of lawyers, after being arrested, were put under residential surveillance at a designated location (指定居所监视居住), during which time they were subjected to extremely severe torture. The Hunan lawyer Xie Yang, for instance, was beaten by police and put through exhausting interrogations and sleep deprivation. Li Heping’s younger brother, Li Chunfu (李春富), was detained for 530 days, during which time he suffered severe psychological damage. These cases make clear that torture remains an extremely serious problem. Everyone needs to pay attention to the issue, including, of course, the international community.“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
We believe that while advocacy for the prohibition of torture will remain full of risks, more and more lawyers will stand up and say “no” to torture. Through the efforts of lawyers, torture in China will occur less and less, and those who have carried out the torture will receive the punishment they’re due.
Punches, Kicks and the ‘Dangling Chair’: Detainee Tells of Torture in China, New York Times, January 20, 2017.
Document of Torture: One Chinese Lawyer’s Story From Jail, WSJ China Real Time, January 20, 2017.
A broken lawyer and a hawkish judge cast deep pall over China’s legal system, Washington Post, January 21, 2017.
Beijing Breaks Lawyers, Wall Street Journal editorial, January 22, 2017.
‘Your only right is to obey’: lawyer describes torture in China’s secret jails, the Guardian, January 23, 2017.
In China, torture is real, and the rule of law is a sham, Washington Post editorial, January 27, 2017.
Cataloging the Torture of Lawyers in China, China Change, July 5, 2015.
Translated from Chinese by China Change.
Wang Qiaoling, January 17, 2017
Since Li Chunfu was released from the custody of China’s security forces on January 12, his family has been providing updates on his condition to the outside world. Their notes make clear that Li was left a broken man, suffering both physically and mentally. China Change calls on the United Nations to investigate the treatment of Li Chunfu in custody, and we call for immediate access on the part of legal counsel to Li Heping and Wang Quanzhang, as well as Jiang Tianyong who has been held in secret detention since November 21, 2016. The circumstances of all these individuals are now of grave concern given Li Chunfu’s condition. — The Editors
These last few days I’ve been staying at Chunfu’s (李春富) house, worried that he might have another episode and hurt his wife. Last night we followed the doctor’s orders and invited Chunfu to sit on the sofa with us to chat about his treatment. Chunfu had sustained serious damage to his neck vertebrae and spine in custody, and his neck is a bit twisted. If the doctor hadn’t pointed this out, we wouldn’t have realized.
As we sat on the sofa and finished talking over medical treatment, Chunfu suddenly screamed: “Tell me! What are you still hiding from me!” I was struck dumb. I could only look upon Chunfu’s face, twisted up with a sinister expression, and his eyes, full of ominous glint.
I finally understand what my sister-in-law was referring to about his outbursts. Anxious, I mimicked his cry: “Tell me! What are you still hiding from me!” The doctor suggested that family members may repeat what the patient says. I felt highly insecure, but kept my eyes fixed on him: “Tell me! What are you hiding from us!” The malice in Chunfu’s eyes began to slowly dissipate.
Chunfu’s wife Bi Liping (毕丽萍), sitting beside us, was crying. “Chunfu, when I saw you at the police station I suspected right away that you had physical problems. I could have turned and left and not brought you home. But I brought you back, and that proves that we don’t want to hurt you. Why don’t you ever trust us? Sister-in-law and Yang Bo (杨波, nephew of the Li brothers) put aside their own affairs to stay with us, just so they could help with your treatment. You have to believe us.” Chunfu got that vicious look in his eyes again and started staring at me. I felt so crushed. I roared out once more: “Tell me! What are you hiding from us!” The menace in Chunfu’s eyes again slowly disappeared.
We told him to go wash his face and brush his teeth so he could go to sleep, but he was absent and confused, and asked: “Why do I have to brush my teeth?” After he finished brushing, he again queried his wife: “Which one’s my toothbrush?”
Before nodding off he called Bi Liping into the room, twice, in order to ask: “Are you sure you’re not hiding anything from me?”
The whole night at Chunfu’s was spent in fitful sleep. I was thinking over: why haven’t Heping and Quanzhang been allowed access to a lawyer? Xie Yang (谢阳) and Wu Gan (吴淦) can see lawyers now. Is it because Heping and Quanzhang are now the same as Chunfu? I tossed and turned through the night, and only got a few winks of half-conscious sleep in the morning. When I again saw Chunfu looking at me, with that tortured, fierce expression fixed on his face, I finally understood what my sister-in-law meant about his episodes, and why she’s been unable to sleep and now constantly wakes in fright.
709 lawyer family members,
Wang Qiaoling (王峭岭, wife of Li Heping)
Li Wenzu (李文足, wife of Wang Quanzhang)
Bi Liping (wife of Li Chunfu)
January 16, 2017
Addendum by lawyer Chen Jiangang: Li Chunfu is in a state of paranoia, dread, and alarm. He’s always fearful. Fearful of something going wrong, fearful of people coming to take him away. When he sees an old friend he’s a little better, but even when it’s a friend talking to him, he’s still full of suspicion, foreboding, and dread. For example, when we went to eat a meal together, someone asked him to order. He responded: “What’s that mean? Is something going to happen?” When asked whether he wants to eat dumplings or noodles, he responded by repeatedly asking what that question was supposed to mean, and “why are you making me choose?”
*Translator’s note: Several human rights lawyers and activists reported that “Tell me! What are you still hiding from me?!” is what interrogators frequently yell during interrogations.
An Update on Lawyer Li Chunfu’s Condition, January 14, 2017
A Third Update on Lawyer Li Chunfu: He Was Drugged in Custody, January 15, 2017
Translated from Chinese by China Change.
Zhuang Liehong, January 17, 2017
“Soon after, a dozen public security agents came to his house and forced him to sign his name to a document they provided, under the watch of three SWAT officers in his living room, who had their submachine guns pointed at his chest and head.”
On December 26, 2016, the Haifeng Court in Guangdong sentenced nine villagers from Wukan (six men and three women) to between two and ten years imprisonment, punishing them for participating in protests that swept Wukan for the second time, from June to September 2016, in response to the imprisonment of their democratically-elected village head Lin Zulian (林祖恋).
The protests were repressed by armed police and SWAT teams, and scores of villagers were arrested, including my father.
The trial and sentencing threw all procedural requirement out the window. The villagers were never indicted, the families not notified of their right to retain counsel. Nine villagers were tried during the course of one day on December 17, 2016, and sentenced in less than 30 minutes on December 26. Thirteen more villagers await trial.
Since the sentencing, I have been working with lawyers on appeals. None of the nine villagers plead guilty and all said they would appeal in court. Given that villagers are very afraid and Wukan has been under lockdown since the protests were put down, I felt that I must do everything I can to not only appeal for my father but also help others lodge appeals on behalf of their loved ones.
Of the nine villagers, Wei Yonghan (魏永汉) received the heaviest sentence — 10.5 years. On January 1, I contacted Wu Jijin (吴吉金), a young Wukan villager working at a coffee shop in Futian, Shenzhen, through the secure messaging application Signal, and through him reached Wei Huizhuan (魏慧转), Wei Yonghan’s niece. Her father, Wei Yongjian (魏永监), is the younger brother to Wei Yonghan. He initially believed that appealing his brother’s case would be tantamount to going against the government, and said: “It’s impossible to resist the government in Wukan now; otherwise we risk going to prison.” I spoke with Wei Yongjian about Wei Yonghan’s rights for three days, finally convincing him that appealing is simply the legal right of a defendant, that it’s the duty of the family, and that it’s entirely in accordance with the law. Wei Yongjian agreed to appeal on Wei Yonghan’s behalf, and he signed a power of attorney letter as well as a letter authorizing defense counsel, and sent them to the Bai Juming Law Firm in Guangxi Province (广西百举鸣律师事务所).
The very same day, Qin Yongpei (覃永沛) of the Bai Juming Law Firm was summoned for questioning by local security police and advised that “it would be best if you didn’t get involved in the sensitive Wukan affair.” On January 7, Qin Chenshou (覃臣寿) of the same law firm had his phone and computer hacked. All the case files were deleted, and he wasn’t able to access any of his social media accounts either.
The following day, after the sons of Hong Yongzhong (洪永忠) and Li Chulu (李楚卢) heard the news, each of them contacted me separately and prepared their own papers — powers of attorney and letters authorizing defense counsel. But before the documents could be sent off, that same night Hong Yongzhong’s son was hauled into the local police station where he was interrogated and intimidated. The outcome was that none of the documents were dispatched.
Then, just two days ago, the son of Yang Jinzhen (杨锦贞), who was of the view that the sentence given to his mother was simply preposterous, went to the Haifeng County People’s Court upon the direction of his lawyer and requested the official judgement. He was refused. He then went to the Wukan market asking villagers to attest to the innocence of his mother. This met with his immediate arrest by public security officials. He was threatened and forced to write a “guarantee statement” that he would not appeal. Yang’s son then took his father and left the village. The word is that they went back to Tianjin where he’d previously worked, and that before they left he said “history will be the judge of all this.”
Before I made contact with these family members, Wu Fang’s (吴芳) son had reached out to me and said that he was looking for a lawyer to appeal on his mother’s behalf. Soon after, a dozen public security agents came to his house and forced him to sign his name to a document they provided, under the watch of three SWAT officers in his living room, who had their submachine guns pointed at his chest and head.
On the afternoon of January 10, my cousin Zhuang Bing (庄冰), who attends university in Foshan, had her coach to Wukan intercepted. A dozen public security personnel came aboard and hauled her off for questioning, threatening her to the point of tears. Her computer used for schoolwork and cellphone were searched, and only after they established that she’d had no contact with me did they let her go.
Later that evening the young Wukan villager Wu Jijin, who had helped me to connect with Wei Yonghan’s relatives, contacted me on Signal: “Brother Zhuang! I’m in trouble. I have to make myself scarce for a while. From now on you’re not to send me any messages.” I assumed that Wu had been summoned by the police. It’s already been four or five days and Wu Jijin’s whereabouts are still unknown. His family hasn’t received any news from the police.
A few days ago, a dozen public security agents and government people came to my family home again. They walked around, covertly took some photos, and left. My mother said that since my father was arrested this has happened countless times. The purpose appears to be to create an atmosphere of terror. Previously, my mother, along with my brother who has physical and cognitive disabilities, were tricked into signing and thumbprinting a document whose contents they were not apprised of. The government personnel had folded part of the paper down when getting the signature, and it was only a few days after she was forced to sign it that my mother realized that they had probably been duped.
Ever since myself and a few friends began trying to seek legal aid for the nine illegally sentenced Wukan villagers, the authorities have been extremely on edge. First the security police called the lawyers in for questioning, then they fooled or threatened the family members into signing documents, including statements terminating legal representation. These are identical tactics to those used in the first wave of crackdowns against Wukan, targeting Hong Ruichao (洪锐潮), Yang Semao (杨色茂) and Lin Zulian, who were given jail sentences of four years, two years, and three years and one month respectively. The authorities have been completely unrestrained, unscrupulous, and lawless in their trampling on human rights to repress Wukan villagers.
On January 8 myself and a number of friends inside and outside China began a petition on WeChat, a popular Chinese social media app, to tell more people in China about what’s going on in Wukan and to support the lawful efforts of Wukan villagers to defend their rights. Two days later WeChat shut down the petition. By then 491 people had signed on in support.
As of the present, every one of the family members of the nine villagers who’ve been sentenced and who were prepared to appeal has been forced to back down. Wei Yonghan’s younger brother, who had already secured legal representation for Wei, on January 10 signed a “Statement on the Termination of Power of Attorney,” and withdrew from appealing. Currently we’re the only family who has persisted.
For the sake of my people in Wukan, I won’t be silent and won’t give up. I am currently the only involved Wukan villager who lives in a free country, and I’m going to use my freedom to keep speaking out, to let the world know what’s happening in my hometown.
Zhuang Liehong (庄烈宏)
New York City
January 14, 2017
Zhuang Liehong was one of the leaders of the 2011 Wukan uprising. He was elected a member of the Village Committee in March 2012. In early 2014 he left China to seek political asylum in the United States. He currently lives in New York.
Translated from Chinese by China Change.
Wang Qiaoling, January 15, 2017
Li Chunfu, a rights lawyer arrested during the 709 incident and the younger brother of lawyer Li Heping, was released “on bail” on January 12, mentally disturbed and physically frail. He has been diagnosed as having symptoms of schizophrenia and hospitalized. We learned from relatives that he was subjected to severe torture during his six months of “residential surveillance at a designated place,” China’s term for secret detention, including being locked up in a bed-sized metal cage for several stretches of time. More details to come. Once again, we urge the international human rights community to immediately begin an investigation into the extreme abuse that Li Chunfu, Li Heping, Wang Quanzhang, Wu Gan, Jiang Tianyong, and others targeted in the 709 arrests have suffered. – The Editors
Yesterday on the fourth floor of the Huilongguan Hospital (回龙观医院) in Beijing, sitting outside the examination ward, Bi Liping (毕丽萍), the wife of rights lawyer Li Chunfu (李春富), received a phone call from Officer Yang of the Tongzhou District, Jiaowang Village police station.
My sister-in-law is always calm and soft-spoken — but this time she roared into the phone. “Officer Yang, I’ve been cooperating with you people for 18 months now. You told me not to speak out, not to work with my sister-in-law, and I’ve followed what you said. But now look what has happened to Chunfu! His mind is shattered! Just what did you people do to him?! What did you do?! We’re not through with this!”
Sitting outside the clinic, Chunfu’s eyes would fix on whoever he was looking at, and he had trouble communicating with people smoothly. At one point he blurted out to the lawyer friends with us: “By the first six months of residential surveillance I’d already gone mad. I was shouting and screaming.”
I felt a cold sweat when I heard those words come from Chunfu’s mouth all of a sudden. I didn’t question him further. I just fixed my gaze on him, not daring to think or speak. He continued: “On January 5 they took me out of the detention center. They didn’t go through any procedures. A lot of people are going to lose their jobs! They did everything to me. But I didn’t do anything illegal; all I did was, once, stand outside the public security bureau in the Northeast with a placard demanding my right to see my client. They wanted me to write a confession, but I wouldn’t do it no matter what. I knew that if I did it they would capture it on camera behind me, and my brother Li Heping and other lawyers would all be harmed!” He paused for a moment, then added: “Don’t tell anyone this. A lot of people will be hurt.” These are Chunfu’s exact words, and I’m not sure everyone understands what he means.
Later that evening, Liping saw that Chunfu’s nerves had calmed down a bit, and she took him by the hand and asked him gently: “Have you not had medicine for a few days?”
Chunfu hesitated for a moment, then responded: “They gave me medicine every day. I haven’t had any the last few days. It’s unbearable…”
Chunfu did not have high blood pressure, and yesterday at the hospital the doctors said that his blood pressure was normal. But in the detention center the doctor forced him to take medicine every day, saying it was for his high blood pressure. And the “hypertension” medication began the first day he was arrested.
Liping and I couldn’t hold back anymore — tears welled up.
This morning we took Chunfu out for a walk. He asked in fright: “Will the police take away our whole family?”
Family members of the 709 lawyers,
Wang Qiaoling (王峭岭, wife of Li Heping [李和平], brother to Li Chunfu)
Li Wenzu (李文足, wife of Wang Quanzhang [王全璋])
Bi Liping (wife of Li Chunfu)
January 15, 2017
Addendum: A letter of thanks from Bi Liping
I want to thank all our friends! I also want to tell all family members of the 709 rights defense lawyers: don’t be kind and silent like me, or you’ll end up in the same situation I’m in. Stand up, expose the crimes of the Tianjin police. Show them to the light of day! I thank everyone again for their care. Your concern and love has given us the energy to persevere through this.
Bi Liping, wife of 709 lawyer Li Chunfu
January 15, 2017
An Update on Lawyer Li Chunfu’s Condition, January 14, 2017
Wang Qiaoling, January 14, 2017
Latest on January 14: Li Chunfu has been diagnosed today as having symptoms of schizophrenia and hospitalized. We learned from relatives that he was subjected to severe torture during his six months of “residential surveillance at a designated place,” China’s term for secret detention. More details to come. Once again, we urge the international human rights community to immediately begin an investigation into the extreme abuse that Li Chunfu, Li Heping, Wang Quanzhang, Wu Gan, Jiang Tianyong, and others targeted in the 709 arrests have suffered. – The Editors
Hours ago China Change posted Wang Qiaoling’s first report of her brother-in-law, lawyer Li Chunfu, who was released “on bail” after being detained incommunicado for 18 months as part of the sweeping “709 crackdown.” This is her update. – The Editors
Yesterday, January 13, at 2:00 p.m., Wang Qiaoling (王峭岭) and Li Wenzu (李文足) — the wives of arrested lawyers Li Heping (李和平) and Wang Quanzhang (王全璋) respectively — as well as a number of lawyer peers, rushed to the home of Li Chunfu (李春富) and his wife. Chunfu was able to recognize them, but couldn’t form coherent sentences.
Within an hour he had muttered to his wife over 20 times: “Bi Liping, don’t hide anything from me!”
He recognized that I was his sister-in-law and tried to talk to me, but he trailed off before finishing the first sentence, hanging his head low as though in pain. He kept saying that he had a pain in his heart. His wife told us: “Last night he was saying that he felt like insects were biting his body inside, that his heart had been eaten away by bugs bit by bit, and there wasn’t much of it left!” The sadness we felt as we heard this while gazing on his lifeless face is difficult to put into words.
Later on I asked Chunfu: “Have you called your mum and dad back home?” He turned to me blankly, and, after a long pause, muttered to himself: “How could I have forgotten that?”
A relative who took him on a small walk through the residential compound said: “Chunfu didn’t dare leave the apartment. I had to promise him repeatedly that I’d definitely accompany him back before he agreed.”
As they walked, Chunfu would dart his eyes in all directions as he spoke: “We have to make sure that we stay within the surveillance perimeter when we walk. We can’t go outside the area.”
This wasn’t the lawyer Li Chunfu of 18 months ago. That Li Chunfu dropped out of school at age 14, went south for work, got stabbed, slept in a cemetery, then managed to become a lawyer after six years of gruelling self-study. He had been taken into custody because of the human rights cases he had taken on — he had been locked in a steel cage, battered, and threatened, but that hadn’t changed him. I never imagined that 18 months of jail would torment him to the point of a mental breakdown, leaving him broken and paranoid.
Come evening when we were due to leave, he gripped his lawyer friend who came with us in a tight hug, saying: “Please, keep an eye on what they do to me!”
I thought that these were his true thoughts.
Shortly after we left, he discovered his wife’s conversation with us and was scared, shouting at her: “Who said you could tell them that I’m back? The police said no!” Before his wife was able to offer an explanation — “I didn’t” — he slapped her in the face!
Finally I must correct a detail in my initial report of Chunfu’s return: Chunfu was not brought home by the police. Instead, his wife was called to the neighborhood police station at Jiaowang Village, Tongzhou District (通州区焦王庄派出所) to take him home. Why did I make this mistake? Because that was what Chunfu’s friend told me, and his family was sternly warned by public security authorities not to tell the world what happened, including how he got home…
Family of the 709 lawyers:
Wang Qiaoling (wife of Li Heping)
Li Wenzu (wife of Wang Quanzhang)
On the morning of January 14, 2017
An addendum by China Change:
Several lawyer friends took Li Chunfu to a hospital in Beijing for a check up Saturday morning. This is some of what Chunfu said to them:
“I thought I’d never seen you all again…”
“What place is this? I hope nothing will go wrong.”
“Will something go wrong if we’re seen together? Are you sure?”
“Will the police show up?”
“Please don’t leave me alone.”
“Jiangang, I really want to cry.”