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China Change, April 21, 2017
Since the publication in early January of the “Transcript of Interviews with Lawyer Xie Yang,” made by lawyer Chen Jiangang (陈建刚), detailing a series of meetings with Xie Yang (谢阳) at the Changsha 2nd Detention Center, the Xie Yang case has taken many bizarre turns.
The revelations of torture in the interviews, the first meticulously-recorded and lengthy account of the abuse meted out to a human rights lawyer, offer a shocking view of the “709 crackdown” since mid-2015. As of now, four human rights lawyers and a number of activists are still in detention, and in the case of lawyer Li Heping (李和平) and Wang Quanzhang (王全璋), have been denied access to their lawyers for well over 600 days.
The torture of Xie Yang was perpetrated during the six months of secret detention, known as “residential surveillance at a designated location,” in the second half of 2015. After being exposed this year, it took the media by storm and provoked waves of strong reaction from the international legal community, governments, UN specialists, and human rights NGOs. On February 27, ambassadors of 11 nations wrote to the Chinese Minister of Public Security seeking answers to the reports.
Two days later, on March 1, Chinese state media, both print and broadcast, launched a smear campaign accusing the lawyers of colluding to fabricate the claims and catering to foreign media. Lawyer Jiang Tianyong (江天勇), who was abducted in Changsha on Novmeber 21, 2016, after visiting Xie Yang’s wife and children and posing for a photo outside the Changsha 2nd Detention Center, was made to appear on TV “confessing” that he had made up the torture details. An “investigative report” by the Hunan Procuratorate, which made a blurry, half-page appearance on CCTV, denied that torture had occurred. It was later reported that a few of the 11 ambassadors were subsequently summoned by the Chinese Foreign Ministry and shown the “conclusions” of this report.
Stunned by the boldfaced denial, lawyer Chen Jiangang posted articles and videos (with English subtitles) refuting the official media’s shabby narrative and questioning the Hunan investigation in its entirety. He was then was summoned for a talk with officials in Beijing, and menacing hints were made that he was under some sort of investigation…
Meanwhile, defense lawyers have been denied the right to meet with Xie Yang since February 28, a violation of Chinese law.
In recent weeks it seems that authorities in Hunan and Beijing have been negotiating a “resolution” of the case with Xie Yang. He was appointed an officially-sanctioned attorney. Yesterday, we heard the news that Xie Yang will be tried on April 25.
We don’t know what’s in store for Xie Yang. His wife, Chen Guiqiu (陈桂秋), a professor of environmental science at Hunan University, recently arrived in the U.S. seeking asylum. Today, she issued the following statement:
In December 2016 lawyers Chen Jiangang and Liu Zhengqing (刘正清) were commissioned by the family of Xie Yang to be his defense attorneys; they were then allowed by the Changsha 2nd Detention Center to meet Xie Yang, and obtained his signature confirming their power of attorney. This made Chen Jiangang and Liu Zhengqing Xie Yang’s official defense lawyers.
Following this, the two lawyers met with Xie Yang on multiple occasions, and came to learn of the extensive torture he was subjected to. They also began filing complaints against his torturers. The outcome of the submission of these complaints, however, was not that the torturers were investigated and held responsible, but that on February 28, 2017, the two lawyers were suddenly prevented from meeting with their client at the detention center. Why were the lawyers hired by family and the defendant prevented from working on the case?
Earlier this month, representatives of the Justice Department of Hunan Province met with Liu Zhengqing in Guangzhou and then Chen Jiangang in Beijing, saying that on March 31 Xie Yang had dissolved the contractual relationships with them as attorneys and instead turned around and commissioned He Xiaodian (贺小电) in Changsha as his defense lawyer.
Why have the Hunan authorities gone to such lengths to alter Xie Yang’s legal representation?
Now I am shocked to learn that on April 25, 2017, the Changsha Intermediate People’s Court will be trying Xie Yang for “inciting subversion of state power” (煽动颠覆国家政权罪), and “disrupting court order” (扰乱法庭秩序罪), and that his defense lawyer at court will be He Xiaodian.
Xie Yang’s family, defense lawyers, and his friends in China and overseas are anxiously watching and waiting for what the authorities will do.
Chen Guiqiu, wife of Xie Yang, in the United States
April 20, 2017
China’s Extraordinary Response to the 11-Nation Letter Over the Torture of Human Rights Lawyers, Yaxue Cao, March 28, 2017.
Yaxue Cao, March 28, 2017
When on March 1 Chinese media launched a sudden and all-out smear campaign claiming that the torture of human rights lawyer Xie Yang (谢阳) was a fabrication, and that Western media coverage of it was “fake news,” many of us wondered what this outburst was all about. A UN Human Rights Council meeting? The German Chancellor’s planned visit?
Now we know. On February 27, diplomatic missions in Beijing from 11 countries wrote a letter, expressing their “growing concern over recent claims of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment in cases concerning detained human rights lawyers and other human rights defenders.” The letter also urged China to abandon the practice of secret detention known as “residential surveillance at a designated location” (RSDL). The 11 countries are: Australia, Canada, Japan, Switzerland, and seven European Union member nations: Belgium, the Czech Republic, Estonia, France, Germany, Sweden and the United Kingdom.
Looking back, one has to marvel at China’s response.
The Smear Campaign: A Lightning-Fast Mass Production
On March 1, two days after the 11-country letter was delivered, the smear campaign began. Global Times (《环球时报》) led the charge with the article “The Truth about ‘Xie Yang Torture’: It’s a Fabrication Catering to Western Media”. It was quickly reposted by other print media and on major news portals such as Sina, Tencent, Netease, China National Radio, China.com, etc. Lawyer Jiang Tianyong, who was disappeared on November 21 last year and subsequently placed under RSDL, was shown on camera “admitting” that he was involved in the fabrication of Xie Yang’s claim to have been tortured, and that Xie Yang’s defense lawyer (Chen Jiangang) supplied further embellishments.
On March 2, CCTV broadcast (on at least two channels) a segment titled “The investigation into the truth about Xie Yang’s torture – a concoction of storytelling and imagination”. A prosecutor from the Hunan Procuratorate claimed that a team of prosecutors conducted an investigation in mid-February and concluded that the torture allegations were not true. CCTV failed to show a single full page from the “report,” except for what appeared to be the final page signed by three names.
The same day, Legal Daily, Procuratorate Daily, Southern Metropolis Daily and other papers joined the chorus of attack: that Xie Yang’s torture is a lie that has been rebuked by an investigation by the Hunan Procuratorate. The official website of the Ministry of Public Security and the official website of the Supreme People’s Procuratorate served up the same articles.
Also on March 2, the Weibo account of the Communist Party Youth League posted a 4-minute video called “The Truth About Xie Yang Torture Hyped up by Overseas Anti-China Media” (China Change subtitled the video). In addition to repeating the same smears, it made cynical deployment of several one-liners from President Donald Trump to add a veneer of legitimacy to the attack.
On March 2, Phoenix Television, a pro-Beijing broadcaster, showed two segments repeating similar content to CCTV (here and here). These video segments were reposted by provincial public security Weibo accounts.
On March 2, Xinhua’s English news website has this story: “Investigation reveals fake ‘torture stories’ about lawyer Xie Yang.”
Implicating Lawyer Chen Jiangang and his Firm
First off, Jiang Tianyong’s two defense lawyers were shocked to see their client on national television. They promptly asked: We have been denied meeting with our client for months on grounds of national security — how could a CCTV reporter, a camera crew, and God knows who else trudge in and film him? They demanded an answer but have received none.
In mid-February, the Beijing Municipal Justice Bureau and the Chaoyang District Justice Bureau summoned the 38-year-old lawyer Chen Jiangang — one Xie Yang’s two defense lawyers and the author of the detailed torture transcripts published on January 19 — and berated him for disclosing case information and giving interviews to foreign media. He was told to keep his mouth shut.
Following the massive smear campaign on March 1 and 2, Chen Jiangang published a long article detailing his meetings with Xie Yang and how the transcripts came about, questioning the Hunan Procuratorate’s so-called “independent report.” On March 5, he sent a formal letter to Hunan prosecutors, but has heard nothing back to this day.
He also posted Xie Yang’s own statement on January 13 affirming the fact that he was tortured. Sensing that he too is in danger of being retaliated against, Chen posted a statement: “I take complete responsibility for every character in the two transcripts I made of the meetings with Xie Yang, as well as for any other transcripts that have not yet been made public.”
Meanwhile, he has received a flow of nonstop calls and messages from municipal and district justice bureaus. “You made big troubles for us,” he was told. “The Center is extremely furious.” The authorities, he learned, approached some of his former clients and attempted to get them to smear him – an indication that the retaliation campaign is well underway.
His law firm was “inspected” earlier last week and the principals were told that they needed to “tighten management.” It’s all about intimidation.
Since February 28 both defense lawyers have been unable to meet Xie Yang despite repeated requests.
Angry Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Lashes Out
“China is always opposed to the efforts of any country to disrupt the normal case handling by Chinese judicial authorities at the excuse of human rights,” Hua Chunying, a spokeswoman for China’s foreign ministry, said on March 21, responding to the February 27 letter by 11 countries.
“You mentioned this expression of opinions by 11 missions in China. I believe this in itself is violating the spirit of rule of law. All sovereign states enjoy the independence of judicial affairs, and no country has the right to interfere with the independence of their judicial affairs,” Ms. Hua said in response to a question from The Globe and Mail.
The letter seems to have really rattled China and ruffled feathers in Beijing.
New Warning: ‘Be Aware, Diplomats!’
For Washington Post, the news on March 22 was that the United States abstained from signing the letter, conspicuously and inexplicably. Some suggested the omission was due to the still-unfilled senior positions and the chaotic nature of the transition, while others believed it was a decision most likely made by Rex Tillerson, the new Secretary of State.
The Chinese government apparently relished the fact that the United States didn’t participate. Global Times took a screenshot of the Post’s headline, though in their Chinese-language summary only drew attention to the U.S. absence, while neglecting the part about “lawyers” and “torture.”
They also had a field day co-opting Trump with images and soundbites like “very fake news” and “you’re fired!”
Global Times criticized western governments for inflating the number of lawyers who were subject to persecution, pointing out that the “Hunan People’s Procuratorate has issued a formal investigation report over allegations of ‘Xie Yang being tortured,’” and concluding that they are not true. It warned Western governments not to misjudge the Chinese judiciary due to “political bias.”
Is There An ‘Investigation’?
No, there isn’t. They know perfectly well that everything about Xie Yang’s reports of torture is true. The CCTV report on March 2 showed only half a page from the much vaunted Hunan Procuratorate investigation. Of the half page there is the title, the “Conclusion,” and in between nothing more than ellipses.
Lawyer Chen Jiangang lobbed a barrage of questions about this report, which I sample here:
- Why wasn’t Xie Yang’s defense counsel asked to join the investigation?
- Why haven’t you published the report? Publish the report!
- The torture was first reported in October 2016, but you didn’t “investigate” it until mid-February — what took you so long?
- How is it legal to place Xie Yang under ‘Residential Surveillance at a Designated Location’?
- Why not publish the surveillance video/audio recording of Xie Yang’s interrogation to prove, in the most straightforward manner, that there was no torture? By law, the authorities should have recorded every minute of it.
- The Xie Yang torture transcripts names scores of torturers. Why not ask them to state to the public that they didn’t torture Xie Yang?
- Why didn’t CCTV ask Xie Yang himself on camera whether he was tortured?
- Can you all come out and debate with me about your investigation?
What’s at Stake
China has to be seriously rattled to have launched such a furious and massive counterattack. It came right after the 11-country letter, but I suspect the letter was merely the last straw in a period of prolonged media coverage and governmental and NGO reaction to the torture revelations — not just of Xie Yang, but of Li Chunfu, and privately, of other 709 Incident detainees.
Indeed, we have yet to learn the whole extent of the 709 torture. In a letter to world leaders, four wives summarized what they had learned from talking to those who had been released and who have yet to speak out openly about their experiences in custody:
“Whether the internees were in good health or not, they were all made to take medication. ….The most they were forced to take was 20 pills per day, including barbiturates and antipsychotic drugs, along with other unidentified drugs. The victims were either forced to consume the drugs or tricked into doing so, and afterwards often felt dazed and stuporous.”
“….Prisoners were also put in cages submerged mostly in water, and left inside for seven days, the entire body underwater with a space to breath at the top. As they stood in the water and tried to sleep, rats would scurry about outside the cage, biting their nose and ears.”
Concurrent with the arbitrary detention and torture that began on July 9, 2015, China has been propagating a narrative where an evil force, led by the United States and its allies, is working to destabilize the world for its own gain: in Iraq, in Syria, over the South China Sea, and inside China. The establishment of THAAD in South Korea is also seen as a finger in China’s eye. One of the many videos Chinese authorities have disseminated on domestic websites included stealthy shots of U.S. embassy vehicles and personnel, and a French diplomat, during the first four 709 trials last August in front of a Tianjin court. All this was fitted to nefarious music and a sarcastic, hectoring voiceover. Human rights lawyers and defenders are depicted as agents of China’s subversion in a U.S.-led color revolution.
The revelations of the torture of Xie Yang were an extraordinary act of courage by both Xie Yang and his lawyer Chen Jiangang. The broader meaning of it was laid bare by they two lawyers during their long conversations at the No. 2 West Meeting Room at Changsha 2nd Detention Center. Chen related in a home recording on March 7:
“But Xie Yang refused to admit any guilt because he is innocent….. His thought was that he wanted to maintain the final dignity for Chinese lawyers as a whole. He also thought that right now a nationwide crackdown and persecution of human rights lawyers — and any lawyer who dares to resist the authorities — is taking place, and that he would spare no effort to fight his case and push back against the persecution. If they succeeded easily in Xie Yang’s case, they would unscrupulously harm and persecute other lawyers in the future. He was willing to use himself to ‘test the tiger.’ I’m not saying how wonderful he is. I know him too well, he has many flaws. But on this point, he said he wanted to use his own case to fight back and to prevent them from persecuting lawyers as a whole in the future.” [26’03”-27’36”; subtitled by China Change]
You too, diplomats and policymakers, have to hold your ground and push back. You must not be beaten off or scared away, or you will be crushed and overrun.
Bill of Indictment Against Human Rights Lawyer Xie Yang, January 11, 2017.
‘The Ball Is in Your Court!’ Questions for the Hunan Procuratorate Regarding Its ‘Independent Investigation’ into Xie Yang’s Torture
Chen Jiangang, March 22, 2017
The public didn’t know until yesterday that ambassadors from 11 countries wrote a letter to China’s Minister of Public Security on February 27, 2017, expressing their grave concern over recent reports of torture of human rights lawyers, and China’s use of secret detention known as “residential surveillance at a designated location” (RSDL). In light of our knowledge of this letter, China’s massive smear campaign beginning on March 1 — two days after the letter was received — becomes much more disturbing. China made lawyer Jiang Tianyong (江天勇) “confess” on camera that he had made up the reports of Xie Yang’s (谢阳) torture; Jiang was forcibly disappeared on November 21, 2016, and subsequently placed under RSDL, and thus could not have made those statements of his own volition, raising the concern that he has also been tortured. Chinese state media further hinted that Chen Jiangang (陈建刚), Xie Yang’s defense lawyer, worked with Jiang to further the fabrication. Since then, lawyers Chen Jiangang and Liu Zhengqing (刘正清) have been denied several requests to meet their client Xie Yang, and Chen is worried that Xie Yang may be tortured again. Meanwhile, Chen himself has been under significant pressure to keep his mouth shut, and officials from the Beijing Municipal Justice Bureau and the Chaoyang District Justice Bureau have frequently warned of trouble, and requested talks. Today they are conducting an “inspection” of his law firm. “If I can only use my mouth for eating but not for speaking,” Chen said, “you may as well ask me to be a pig or a dog.” We are concerned about lawyer Chen Jiangang’s safety and the reprisals that will inevitably befall him. We remain concerned about Jiang Tianyong and Xie Yang’s circumstances and that of the 709 lawyers and activists still in custody in Tianjin. — The Editors
On March 3, China Central Television published a story titled “The Truth Behind Lawyer Xie Yang’s Claims of Torture: An Intricate Fabrication” (《律师谢阳“遭遇酷刑”真相调查 酷刑是故事加细节想象出来的》) in which Yang Zhizhong (杨志忠), a prosecutor in charge of internal supervision of criminal enforcement in the Hunan Procuratorate, was quoted saying that no torture of the Chinese human rights lawyer Xie Yang have taken place during his time in custody.
“The entire mission of our criminal enforcement supervision division is to protect the legal rights of detainees, so we took it upon ourselves to form this eight-person investigation team to conduct an independent investigation,” he said on camera. “Through our investigation, we found that these four claims of ‘torture’ can be said, absolutely, to be false.”
As Xie Yang’s defense counsel who published the transcripts of Xie Yang’s torture, I submit the following points of fact, clarification, and questioning to the Hunan Procuratorate, which I hope it will examine and respond to.
- Xie Yang’s Defense Counsel Has Not Seen the Report
The official China Central Television (CCTV) broadcast briefly flashed an image of the Hunan Procuratorate’s report, titled “Investigative Report Regarding Claims by Xie Yang and His Defense Attorney of Torture, Forced Confession, and Abuse During Residential Surveillance at a Designated Location and in Custody at the Detention Center” (《关于谢阳及其辩护人反映谢阳在指定监视居住和看守所羁押期间受到刑讯逼供、虐待等问题的调查报告》, henceforth “the report”). Judging from the title, the Hunan Procuratorate opened an investigation into the reports of torture of Xie Yang as a result of Xie Yang’s complaint and that of his defense counsel. In that case, shouldn’t they contact Xie Yang’s defense counsel, the individuals who made public the transcripts? Shouldn’t the conclusion of the report be communicated to Xie Yang’s defense counsel? Xie Yang’s two lawyers, Chen Jiangang (陈建刚) and Liu Zhengqing (刘正清), have not received either oral or written notification concerning the investigation or been subject to questioning by the Hunan Procuratorate. Neither have they even seen a single complete page of the final report.
The Hunan Procuratorate claims that it produced its report to refute allegations by Xie Yang’s defense lawyers, yet it hides the report from those lawyers. Why? Did you go to all that trouble just to flash half a page for one second on CCTV?
- How Was the Report Independent?
From Xie Yang’s case file that I read, Xie Yang was charged with “opposing the Party and opposing socialism.” The indictment of Xie Yang accuses him of publishing “many speeches attacking and defaming the government, judicial organs, and the state justice system.” That is to say, Xie Yang is the attacker, the criminal suspect, and the Communist Party, government departments, and judicial organs, are the victims. The two stand in an oppositional relationship. Thus, the following questions arise:
i. The Hunan Procuratorate is lead by the Party, is it not?
ii. The individuals who participated in the investigation are Party members, are they not? (If any prosecutor at the Hunan Procuratorate is not a Party member, please come forward and refute me.)
iii. The Hunan Procuratorate is a judicial organ, is it not?
If the answer to any of the above three questions is in the affirmative, then there can be no such thing as an “independent investigation,” because the Hunan Procuratorate and its prosecutors are all parties to a dispute with Xie Yang. You don’t get to be a referee when you are a competing athlete.
- Please Publish the Report
The official broadcast says that Western media began reporting on the prosecution of Xie Yang in October 2016, that Xie Yang’s defense lawyers published two “Transcript of Interviews with Lawyer Xie Yang” on January 19, 2017, and that the Hunan Procuratorate began its own investigation on February 17. But as of today, this investigative report has not been published as far as I know.
Please publish the entire text for public scrutiny. The ball is in your court!
Regarding the Western media reports: in its video, CCTV only showed a few reports by overseas Chinese-language media outlets around October 11, 2016. But mainstream media organizations in the United States, England, France, and Spain only began to report on Xie Yang torture following my transcripts published on January 19, 2017. Perhaps it’s precisely because of the massive international response that the government has gone all out attempting to irrationally and speciously refute it.
- Please Clarify the Legality of ‘Residential Surveillance at a Designated Location’
Given that the Hunan Procuratorate has produced an “independent” investigation which exculpated the Changsha Municipal Public Security Bureau, please make public your findings of the legal grounds on which the Changsha public security authorities held Xie Yang in the National University of Defense Technology’s (国防科技大学) guesthouse for retired cadres, at 732 Deya Road, Kaifu district, Changsha.
Please also provide the legal basis on which Xie Yang’s family members were not notified during this period of captivity.
Please also provide the legal basis on which Xie Yang was prohibited visitation from his family members, and access to his legal counsel, during this period of captivity.
What’s also interesting, and suspicious, is CCTV’s brief shot of some brand new small plastic stools — the kind elementary school students use — in the supposed room in which Xie Yang was held during the “residential surveillance” period. Was the room featured in the shot the same room in which Xie Yang was held? Were those plastic stools the same ones used in the “dangling chair” torture that Xie Yang described? Xie Yang was never asked anything on camera.
For my rebuttal on this question, please consult item 11 in my article “How Xie Yang’s Transcripts of Torture Came to Light.” It needn’t be rehashed here.
- Please Make Public the Interrogation Video Made During Residential Surveillance
According to Article 19 of “SPC, SPP, MPS, MSS, MoJ, and the Legislative Affairs Commission of the NPCSC Regulation on Several Questions Concerning the Implementation of the CPL” (《最高人民法院最高人民检察院公安部国家安全部司法部全国人大常委会法制工作委员会关于实施刑事诉讼法若干问题的规定》), and Article 121 of the “Criminal Procedure Law” (《刑事诉讼法》), as well as Article 203 of the “Public Security Criminal Complaint Regulations” (《公安刑诉规定》), as well as the fact that Xie Yang stood accused of the crime of “subversion of state power,” all interrogations of Xie Yang are required to have been fully recorded. Moreover, this audio and visual recording must be “from beginning to end, with no interruptions or alterations of integrity. It is not permitted to selectively record, or to edit or redact the film.”
As public prosecutors with the Hunan Procuratorate, you are surely aware of these regulations, and surely you know that the most direct way of ascertaining the truth of the matter is to directly consult those interrogation recordings.
Have you watched and listened to the recordings?
If you have not accessed the recordings, why not?
If the public security authorities said that they do not have the recordings, then this would be a serious violation of the law. How do you intend to deal with it?
In your report, did you include discussion of whether or not you have examined the full recordings of the interrogation sessions?
- Have You Questioned the Potential Torturers?
I will repeat once more that it seems, judging by the headline of your report, that you began the investigation after reading the transcripts. Thus, please answer this: of the nearly 50 individuals accused of torture — including Li Feng (李峰), Li Kewei (李克伟), Wang Dehua (王德华), Hu Yunfeng (胡云峰), Wang Tieta (王铁铊), Zhu Heng (朱恒), Ye Yun (叶云), Xie Leshi (谢乐石), Zhou Liang (周浪), Yin Zhuo (尹卓), Qu Ke (屈可), Li Yang (李旸), Zhou Yi (周毅), Zhuang Xiaoliang (庄晓亮), Yuan Jin (袁进) — did you perform any investigation of any of them at all?
You are determined to tell the public that the torture of Xie Yang was fabricated, but to this date you have not provided the text of the report you wrote.
The CCTV report included nothing about the investigation of these individuals, but instead included remarks by his cellmates. Xie Yang was not transferred to the detention center until January 9, 2016. How would his cellmates have knowledge of torture that took place earlier?
- Would the Procuratorate and its Loyal Journalists Please Consult a Calendar?
The CCTV report notes that Xie Yang “sleeps nine hours a night,” does physical exercise, and that he’s perfectly healthy. The detention center even gives him physicals. The journalist remarks: “Our reporter observed that Xie Yang walks with a steady stride and climbs stairs without difficulty.”
I advise the Hunan Procuratorate and the obedient CCTV journalists to pick up a calendar with one hand and grope around for your conscience with the other.
i. Regarding the time and location
The torture and forced confessions reported by Xie Yang and his legal counsel took place between July 12, 2015 and January 8, 2016. Xie Yang was being held in the retired cadre guesthouse of the National University of Defense Technology. The “investigation” by the Hunan Procuratorate and its journalists took place in the latter half of February 2017 — over a year later. The two locations are also dozens of kilometers apart. Does the fact that Xie Yang was able to “walk with a steady stride and climb stairs without difficulty” in February 2017 somehow prove that a year ago he was not savagely beaten, suffocated with cigarette smoke, forced to sit on a stack of stools with his legs dangling until they swelled up, deprived of sleep through endless questioning, deprived of water, and so on?
ii. The injury to Xie Yang’s legs
During his torture, Xie Yang’s legs suffered severe swelling. But he has been out of that black jail for 13 months now. When the Hunan Procuratorate and the CCTV journalists saw him, he could walk normally. How can that logically result in the conclusion that he was not tortured?
iii. The improvement in Xie Yang’s conditions
The first time lawyer Zhang Zhongshi (张重实) met with Xie Yang at the Changsha No. 2 Detention Center, he heard with his own ears the disciplinary officer Yuan Jin berating and slugging Xie Yang before the meeting. Zhang then lodged a complaint against the detention center and Yuan Jin, and the authorities transferred the officer out. Xie Yang made clear on many occasions that his conditions began to improve once he was allowed access to a lawyer. Even so, he still suffered unjust treatment. For instance, he was limited to spending 600 yuan a month to buy food and daily necessities, a restriction not placed on other detainees.
We are very happy to know that Xie Yang is now allowed to sleep and is in good health. But that does not prove that he was not tortured and beaten in a black jail a year ago.
- CCTV Journalists: Please Let Xie Yang Speak
In the CCTV interview, Xie Yang is permitted to say only a few sentences: “I’m wearing a wool sweater,” “I’m in good health,” “I sleep nine hours at night, and the detention center gives us health checkups,” “I called ‘120’ [China’s emergency number] because I was sick,” and so forth. Nowhere does he deny that he was tortured.
Hunan Procuratorate and CCTV journalists, please ask Xie Yang on camera: “Were you tortured to give a confession? Are the transcripts published by your defense lawyers accurate?” These are the two fundamental questions you should actually be investigating.
- There is a True Version of Events
CCTV, Phoenix TV, QQ TV, Hunan TV and other media outlets have been running headline reports about “fake news” in the Western press, using Cultural Revolution-style language. Good journalists report truthfully wherever they are. If media purposefully fabricates news, conceals the truth, deceives the public, and dumbs-down the public, then they’re shameless media whose journalists have little dignity or conscience.
I look forward to the response of the Hunan Procuratorate and of the media organizations that have attempted to blot out the truth.
March 5, 2017
How Xie Yang’s Transcripts of Torture Came to Light: Lawyer Chen Jiangang Rebuts China’s Smear Campaign, Chen Jiangang, March 3, 2017
Co-opting Trump, Chinese State Propaganda Brands Torture Revelations ‘Fake News’, March 8, 2017 (with English subtitle)
China Change, March 9, 2017
On March 1, Chinese state-run print and television media launched a massive campaign to discredit reports that human rights lawyer Xie Yang was severely tortured during his detention, from July 11, 2015 to the present. The propaganda apparatus paraded on camera Jiang Tianyong, another human rights lawyer kidnapped by state security in November 2016, “confessing” that he had fabricated the details of torture to capture the attention of Western media and governments, who are said to be implacably biased against China. Jiang Tianyong is believed to have been tortured to subjection. The next day, the official Weibo account of the Chinese Communist Party’s Youth League trotted out a four minute video that, in addition to repeating the same smears, made cynical deployment of several one-liners from President Donald Trump to add a veneer of legitimacy to the attack. China Change uploaded the video to YouTube for preservation, and added subtitles so viewers can examine Party propaganda in its rawest form.
Since last August, the Chinese propaganda apparatus has pumped out a series of similar video productions that have reached tens of millions of viewers on domestic social media platforms. Such videos have charged that the goal of the United States is to incite a color revolution in China to topple the Communist regime. The conspiratorial anti-U.S. narrative used to be dismissed by China watchers as hawkish cries from the Party’s radical fringe, but by now it should be clear that this discourse in fact lies at the core of Party ideology.
These videos include:
After Four Detainees of the ‘709 Incident’ Are Indicted, Chinese State Media Name Foreign News Organizations, a US Congressman, & Three Embassies in Beijing as ‘Foreign Anti-China Forces’, China Change, July 15, 2016
The torture of Xie Yang:
How Xie Yang’s Transcripts of Torture Came to Light: Lawyer Chen Jiangang Rebuts China’s Smear Campaign, Chen Jiangang, March 3, 2017
Transcript of Interviews with Lawyer Xie Yang (1) – Arrest, Questions About Chinese Human Rights Lawyers Group
Transcript of Interviews with Lawyer Xie Yang (2) – Sleep Deprivation
Transcript of Interviews with Lawyer Xie Yang (3) – Dangling Chair, Beating, Threatening Lives of Loved Ones, and Framing Others
World media reports about the torture of Xie Yang following the publication of the transcripts:
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.
Abogados chinos se movilizan contra el Gobierno tras conocerse torturas, EFE, January 22, 2017.
‘Your only right is to obey’: lawyer describes torture in China’s secret jails, The Guardian, January 23, 2017.
China must respect lawyers’ human rights, a letter by 29 international lawyers, judges and jurists, The Guardian, January 23, 2017.
Un avocat chinois révèle des tortures subies en détention, Le Monde, January 24, 2017.
“Te haremos sufrir de la manera que nos apetezca”, El País, January 24, 2017.
In China, torture is real, and the rule of law is a sham, Washington Post editorial, January 27, 2017.
How Xie Yang’s Transcripts of Torture Came to Light: Lawyer Chen Jiangang Rebuts China’s Smear Campaign
Chen Jiangang, March 3, 2017
When lawyer Chen Jiangang published the “Transcript of Interviews with Lawyer Xie Yang,” the revelations of torture garnered a great deal of attention in the international press and legal profession. To name a few among the many media and professional organizations that covered the transcripts or lamented the lawlessness of Chinese authorities: The Washington Post, the American Bar Association Journal, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, El País, Agencia EFE, The Guardian, The Irish Times, Brussels Diplomatic, and Le Monde. Twenty-nine respected lawyers and judges from around the world penned a letter demanding that China respect the rule of law, while the European Union issued a rare statement expressing concern over the reported torture of human rights lawyers. In the upcoming UN Human Rights Council meetings, China is due to answer inquiries by experts. On March 1, state media began a coordinated, all-out smear campaign, claiming that the torture of Xie Yang was a story fabricated by Jiang Tianyong and Chen Jiangang. Who is lying? China’s human rights lawyers, or state media? – The Editors
1. I’m Part of the ‘709’ Incident
I myself am an individual who’s been affected by the 709 arrests and prosecutions. Sometime in late July, 2015, when I was dealing with a trial in Mengcheng, Anhui (安徽蒙城), I was taken away by state security agents on two occasions for a talking to and a warning. I was told not to do anything about the detention of lawyer Wang Yu (王宇) and others. They told me not to write articles or accept interviews. These two agents weren’t malicious about it, and they even told me privately that they called me in simply to carry out the order that wherever a given lawyer happened to be, the local domestic security police would process it, and that all the information about the given lawyer was provided by Beijing. Sure enough, during the summons, I saw that the two domestic security officers had several A4 pages with my personal information on them, including that of my family.
Of course, I wasn’t arrested, which was quite unexpected.
Given that I myself had been implicated in the 709 case, and because I expected that I was also going to be rounded up, I wasn’t very keen on representing 709 detainees. Furthermore, I’d given up all hope in the judicial system of this tyrannical regime. The legal system in a dictatorship is simply a tool of control — it has nothing to do with justice. When the judicial system becomes a “knife handle” for the Party, human rights lawyers become helpless fish on the chopping block. As for criminal defense and its techniques, what can they be but an object of ridicule for dictators? Since my head was filled with this sort of pessimism, I didn’t pay much attention to the news of Xie Yang (谢阳) being tortured. I reposted it on social media like everyone else, but avoided feeling too much pain about it, because I felt helpless. I had learned long ago that there was no evil deed, and no act too immoral, for this dictatorship. With such a sense of utter despair, I didn’t even enquire about how the details of torture came out, even though later I learnt that it was Xie Yang himself who managed to get the information out of prison.
I did agree to represent lawyer Xie Yanyi (谢燕益), upon the request of his wife Yuan Shanshan (原珊珊), but he was forbidden to engage lawyers of his own choosing, and the authorities had assigned him a lawyer. I went to Tianjin twice to try to meet him, to no avail, and so I wasn’t able to represent him after all.
2. About Me and Jiang Tianyong
Jiang Tianyong (江天勇) is a good friend of mine and a human rights lawyer that I have enormous respect for. He’s been arrested and tortured on multiple occasions, and had eight of his ribs broken in Jiansanjiang. In Nanle county, Henan (河南南乐) in 2014, the authorities mobilized a group of village women to knock him to the ground, pelt him with rocks, bash him with a wooden stool, and rip up his clothes. And in 2011 he was slapped so savagely by state security officers that one of his eardrums was ruptured. Though we knew each other well, we didn’t really stay in touch. He was always in the middle of something sensitive and hard to reach by phone. I hadn’t seen him since the New Year of 2016, when we had a meal together. The last I heard from him was at some point between November 15 and 21, 2016. I published the article “Thoughts on Zhang Sizhi” (《张思之论》) on my blog on November 15. He left two comments, the first pointing out a typo and the second saying “it’s an extraordinary piece.” At the time I didn’t know it was Jiang who’d left the message. I asked who it was, and there was no response, and by the time I found it was him, the news was out that he’d been disappeared on November 21. So it was a complete lie when Global Times claims that I was in the know when Jiang Tianyong — as the paper claims — “fabricated” Xie Yang’s torture.
3. Being Hired by Xie Yang’s Family
In mid-December 2016, I received a call from Xie Yang’s wife. She told me that lawyer Lin Qilei (蔺其磊), one of Xie Yang’s lawyers up to that point, had been forced to withdraw from the case, and that Xie hoped that I would take his case. She reminded me that I might face enormous pressure and even violent reprisal, and that I should think it over carefully. Xie Yang had been detained for 18 months and he was now personally asking me to defend him — there was no way I could I say no.
On December 19, I went to Changsha for the first time, I signed the contract with Xie Yang’s wife and went to the Changsha Second Detention Center to submit the paperwork. I was working with lawyer Liu Zhengqing (刘正清); he went first to request the meeting, and I came shortly behind. I knew that there was little chance that I’d be allowed to see Xie Yang, so my job was to ensure that the paperwork was properly filed and to await their decision. If they decided that I couldn’t be a defense lawyer for Xie Yang, then, just like Lin Qilei before me, there was nothing we could do but vent our frustration. The overriding role of the law in China is to be used as a tool to suppress and control the people.
The Changsha Second Detention Center rejected my documents but took down my legal license number (执业证号码) and my cell phone number. I explicitly requested that they provide an answer within 48 hours, but the officer at the reception said that he doesn’t make decisions, and that the higher-ups would be handling it. I then left Changsha.
4. An Obstacle Course for a Meeting
On December 22, slightly over a month after Jiang Tianyong was taken into custody, I came to Changsha for the second time, went to the detention center, and asked to meet with my client. I first submitted the paperwork to the officer in charge of handling meetings, and he verified my legal license number and began going through the red tape. But when he saw Xie Yang’s name, he said immediately: “I can’t make a decision. You need to see the boss.”
This officer called one of his superiors, then told me to go to the second floor to see the director. Upon seeing the director, I was told the following:
1. Meetings with clients must be conducted according to the law. They were willing to allow a meeting, but I had to obey their regulations. If any rule was violated, the meeting would be immediately terminated. He suggested that we make a gentleman’s agreement, and I readily assented and assured him that I would follow the rules and that he could set his mind at ease.
2. The director suspected that on December 19 when Liu Zhengqing met with Xie Yang, I made my way to the corridor outside the meeting room without gaining the appropriate permission, and warned me that if I am to meet Xie Yang, if there is anyone in the corridor who sees or communicates with him, the meeting would be immediately terminated. I promised the director that I’d lock the door during our meetings.
For my part, I don’t know what gave rise to his description of this little incident on the 19th. On that day I simply submitted the paperwork and left. I never went to the second floor where the meeting room is located, and didn’t know why he thought I had. Later, I realized that the order of events was probably this: When Liu Zhengqing met with Xie Yang, they didn’t close the door; one of Xie Yang’s former colleagues was walking past and saw him, and then when he went back to his office he left a note about the encounter on his law firm’s WeChat group, saying that he’d seen Xie Yang. Then, this was copy-pasted by another lawyer to a chat group I was in, to which I added: “I was outside at the time.” Though I wasn’t clear in my comment, and the “outside” I was referring to was downstairs, it was just this one little sentence that aroused the director’s suspicions. And yet, how did he even know about it? In any case, this made clear to me that, as far as I’m concerned, I have no such thing as privacy. This incident was proof of it.
3. After meeting with the director, I thought Xie Yang and I would be able to meet. But no. The officer at the reception told me that I had to speak with the deputy director of the detention center. I then went back to the second floor and received another round of warnings from the deputy director, who rattled off a bunch of policies and how they were all for the good of Xie Yang and so on.
After these three obstacles, I was finally able to meet Xie Yang.
5. The First Meeting With Xie Yang
Xie Yang and I met at about 10:30 a.m. on December 22, 18 months after he was detained. His hair was getting long and he had grown a beard. He was clearly dispirited. He was escorted in wearing the blue prison uniform, carrying his case files, with a guard on either side. When he saw me his face lit up: “Jiangang, you came!” He was seated, his handcuffs taken off and placed on a stool, and as the two officers left I asked them to close the door because the room was freezing.
When the police left, I cupped my hand with a fist and said to Xie Yang: “Brother, you’ve suffered!” He asked how I came; I explained that I’d just been in Jinan sitting in a hearing about the suspension of Li Jinxing’s (李金星) law license, and that Wen Donghai (文东海) bought me a train ticket to come here, and that I came with Old Sui (隋牧青), who’s waiting outside. When I got this far, Xie Yang broke into tears. The fact that so many people outside were thinking of him and worrying about him moved him deeply.
We exchanged thoughts about the 709 affair. He said he’d seen the forced confession of Zhou Shifeng (周世锋), and roughly knew the circumstances of Wang Yu and others. I said that “of all the lawyers arrested in the 709 crackdown, you’re the only one to be represented by his own attorney.” He replied: “Then I need to save a final bit of dignity for lawyers in China!” These words he spoke through tears, and we grasped one another’s hands through the iron grating, both of us now crying. The time passed quickly and it was soon noon. We agreed to continue that afternoon.
In the afternoon I went to the court with Xie Yang’s wife to submit the paperwork for me to be registered as the lawyer of record, then hurried to the detention center to meet again. Xie Yang and I discussed case defense strategies and ideas. He was very self-confident, and wanted to explain the truth of everything in court, to set the whole case out for all to see. But I was full of sorrow. Can we actually do that? Can we, brother?
Let me pause and explain the layout of the meeting room.
The room we met in was called the “No. 2 West Meeting Room,” and it was given over for Xie Yang’s exclusive use. The police in charge of the administrative procedures for meetings had come and stuck up a sign saying “Reserved for Xie Yang Case.” To the right and left behind where I was seated there were cameras, and then there was another, above left, facing me — those were the three cameras that I could see. Because of the director’s warning, as soon as I entered the meeting room, I locked the door. When another lawyer, having left an electronic swipe card in the room, came back to retrieve it, I handed it to him through the window rather than open the door and break the gentleman’s agreement between myself and the director. Before I entered the room, I placed my cell phone and briefcase in the storage cabinet as required. However, I found that not every lawyer was held to this requirement. Many others brought their briefcases in, or would speak on their phone as they mounted the stairs. But I didn’t dare.
The surveillance of our meetings was extremely strict. On one occasion the door on Xie Yang’s side suddenly opened and a police officer came in, saying that on the monitor Xie Yang’s mood didn’t seem right, and “has he been crying?” Another time, Xie Yang wrote down the phone number of his former legal assistant, asking me to pay back, as soon as possible, a few thousand yuan that he had borrowed before he was arrested. I looked at the number, then thought that I could get it later another way, so I gave the slip of paper back to him. But this exchange was caught by the cameras, and two police came in and demanded the paper that Xie Yang had shown me. They grabbed all the case files on both sides of the grating, dumped them on tables, and began searching through them. When I was leaving that day the deputy director of the facility asked me specifically about this incident, and I told him the truth: Chinese New Year was nearly upon us, Xie Yang owed this person money, if he didn’t pay it back it would bother him to no end, so he asked me to pay them back.
After this incident, whenever Xie Yang or I made to look at materials or case files, I would hold the paper up above my head to ensure that the cameras got a clear view. If the police monitoring the conversation still objected they could come in anytime and see for themselves.
One time, one of the police at the reception, after seeing me coming to visit every morning and afternoon, remarked “It doesn’t look to me like you’re up to anything — you’re just chatting!” Right — just chatting. If we didn’t just chat, how would I have been able to find out all that happened over the last 18 months?
6. A Rough Transcript of the Interview on December 23, 2016
We continued our meetings on December 23. Having just looked up the notes I made after that meeting, I append them below largely unaltered. Xie Yang said to me: “Jiangang, let me tell you roughly what happened after I was detained. Don’t make notes. Just listen so you’ll know the outline, and then we’ll go over it in detail.” I made notes, stopping now and then and asking him for clarification. He’d always say, “Let me talk first, then we we will go into details.” I did make some initial notes as he spoke, which would serve as the basis for my interview with Xie Yang on January 4-6, 2017. They are as follows:
On July 11, 2015, I was staying at a hotel while traveling for a case. In the early morning hours, there was a knock at the door. A voice said that it was public security police. I opened the door, and they presented me with a summons for “gathering a crowd to disturb order in the workplace” (聚众扰乱单位秩序). The agency that issued the summons was the Hongjiang Municipal Public Security Bureau.
They brought me to their station, whereupon agents from public security in Changsha carried out the interrogation. They asked what my views were on Wang Yu’s case, whether I’d accepted interviews with foreign media, and so on. At this point I objected. They kept me locked up and, later, they came to coax me, and I signed a transcript of the session.
In the afternoon, a superior named Li Kewei (李克伟) came and said that my answers were superficial and that I had to redo it. I refused. They kept me there, and in the evening took me to the Changsha Public Security Bureau.
Li Kewei demanded my cell phone password. He’d been threatening me constantly, from when we got on the road from Hongjiang to Changsha, saying that my case is a big one, that they’re representing Party Central in handling it, and if I don’t cooperate then my wife, my parents and siblings, friends, and everyone around me will all be implicated. I said that you can investigate me or anyone you want.
As soon as we got out of the car in Changsha two police came along, one named Zhou Liang (周浪), the other Yin Zhuo (尹卓). They took me to room 207 of the National University of Defense Technology’s (国防科技大学) guesthouse for retired cadres. By then it was the afternoon of July 12. Wang Tieta (王铁铊), the head of the Sixth Squadron at the Changsha Domestic Security Bureau, came to speak with me. He began by making threats. He said that he could guarantee that I would get “reasonable” rest, but that unfortunately there was no legal definition for what counted as “reasonable.” So, in his words, “If we think that two hours sleep a night is reasonable, then it’s two hours sleep. If we think that one hour is enough, then it’ll be one hour. If we think that 20 minutes suits you, then it’ll be 20 minutes.” I got to sleep at about midnight that night.
I was rousted out of bed at 6:30 a.m. to be handed off to the first of five interrogation shifts they had set up. The first shift had me from 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.; the second from 1:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.; the third from 6:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.; the fourth from 11:00 p.m. until 3:00 a.m. These were the first four teams. The fifth was from 3:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m., but they didn’t interrogate. Along with these main shifts of interrogation there were three shifts of chaperons, two people each shift, working on eight hour rotations.
The number of police in each shift wasn’t fixed. Sometimes it was two, sometimes three, sometimes five. But only two people signed off on anything. They would ask me about what I’d written. I said that anything I’ve got to say is posted online, and they can look it up for themselves — it’s all public. They took turns interrogating me.
The fourth shift was supposed to go from 11:00 p.m. until 3:00 a.m., but Yin Zhuo liked to question me until 4:00 or 5:00 a.m. I was woken up every day at 6:00 a.m., so I got about over an hour of sleep a night.
Yin Zhuo said to me in front of the others: “I’ve come especially to make your life hell. I sleep very well during the daytime, and when night comes I’m going to torture and torment you until you lose your mind.” At that moment, a sense of dread seized my heart. I had no idea what would happen. This sleep deprivation lasted three days, and by then I was about to fall apart. When they asked about my friends, I was so exhausted that I simply cried.
Yin Zhuo said that lawyer Zhang Lei (张磊) had been arrested right after his wife had a baby. They also threatened my own family. I just lost it and cried and cried.
Until about July 15 or 16, they forced me to make a list of every person I had contact with from the 2012 to 2015, and which cases I was involved in. I had to put it all down in detail. I was so exhausted that I said I simply couldn’t do it.
Three or four of them, including Yin Zhuo, Zhou Liang, and Zhuang Xiaoliang (庄晓亮), came in, pinned me to the table, twisted my hands behind my back and cuffed them, then began pounding me. The door and windows of the room I was being kept in were shut tight. They said that I could yell all I wanted. There was no one around, and no one would hear me scream.
When Yin Zhuo and Zhou Liang were interrogating and torturing me, the officers in the chaperon shift would leave. When they were done, Yin Zhuo would tell them to come back and make sure I didn’t fall asleep. They sat and stared at my eyes, and if I shut them they’d come and shake my chair. I couldn’t get any rest all night, and a whole day would pass in this manner.
I said: “If you keep this up, you’re going to kill me. The case against me is just a case — you should at least have some humanity.” On July 16 they let me sleep for an hour or two, just so I’d be able to write for them when I woke up. I told them that I’d written everything I could, and that I don’t remember everything over the past two years, and that I’d rather die.
They took out my phone and computer and started looking through the messages I’d posted to chat groups and friend circles, because I have a habit of sending out updates of what I’m doing and which cases I’m handling. They told me to write all that down. When I was done, they said it was not good enough. So they kept torturing me.
Zhuang Xiaoliang said: “It’s mainly up to your attitude. Your case is big — the No. 1 case. Do you think this is a mistake and that you can go to Beijing and lodge a complaint against us? Do you think Beijing doesn’t know what we’re doing to you? If we want to hurt you, we can do what we like.” Both Yin Zhuo and Zhuang Xiaoliang said this sort of thing.
I was facing the threat of death. When they beat me, they would drag me away to a blind spot for the cameras and slug me hard. Sometimes they beat me in front of the cameras. I wondered if they were going to beat me to death, then fake a scene so it looked like I’d killed myself.
After five or six days of this I was basically paralyzed. I couldn’t open my eyes, and my entire body throbbed in pain. I told them that I would write whatever they wanted, and I’ll sign whatever they wanted me to.
They looked up some of the case information related to Zhou Shifeng and Zhai Yanmin (翟岩民) and forced me to write that out. I wrote whatever they said. That’s how those interrogation transcripts came about.
During the six months I was locked in that guesthouse, they beat me like that on about five or six occasions. They also used other torture, such as the “dangling chair” (吊吊椅). That’s where they would stack up plastic stools and make me sit on top so that my feet would hang there. They made me sit like that every day for over a month during the interrogations. My legs eventually swelled up, starting at the calves and going up to the thighs. I couldn’t even walk at the time. They basically turned me into a cripple.
I asked that they take me to the Liuyang Orthopedic Hospital (浏阳骨科医院), because I was worried that this abuse would leave me with a permanent injury. They refused. Instead they gave me a little spray canister of Yunnan Baiyao [a traditional Chinese medicine], and after about a month the swelling went away.
There was another torture, using smoke. They would sit people behind, in front, and to the left and right of me, and each of them would have four or five lit cigarettes in the hand, burning away. Then they would blow the second-hand smoke into my face, making me weep, gag, and suffocate. They would do this to me at 3:00 or 4:00 a.m. each day, torturing me. I screamed out to Heaven and Earth for help, to no avail.
They also refused to give me water. They said: “We’ll give you water whenever we feel like it.” They would often not give me water for over 10 hours at a stretch.
They did a number of things to deliberately torment me. They’d leave hot food to go cold before letting me eat. For example, they would leave lunch on the floor until 2:00 or 3:00 p.m., then serve it to me cold.
They used all of these methods for the first week or so, and after that, having found it quite effective, they canceled the later two shifts.
During the later interrogations, if they didn’t like my attitude they’d threaten me: “Xie Yang, do we need us to put you back in the oven?” Or they would say: “Xie Yang, if we want to kill you, it would be very simple. Killing you is the same as killing an ant!”
I had terrible constipation, and needed fruit to relieve it. They used this to blackmail me. They would make me write things, and only if they were happy would they give me fruit. When I couldn’t write, they would type it up on a computer, print it out, and make me sign it.
On October 24 my whole body shook. I don’t know why. I had a cold sweat, and started to get extremely scared about my condition. I told them that I needed to go to hospital. They reported to Ye Yun (叶云, political commissar of the Changsha Domestic Security Bureau’s Sixth Squadron), who came and said that he couldn’t allow that, but could arrange for medics to come examine me. I didn’t trust their doctors, so I ran to the window and screamed out: “I’m Xie Yang, a lawyer, I’ve been locked up here by the Changsha domestic security police! They haven’t told my family! Please tell my wife that I’m sick and need medical treatment!” There were people walking past, and I yelled out my wife’s name, work unit, and phone number, and told the pedestrians to call her.
That night at 9:46 p.m. Ye Yun used his cell phone to call 120. [China’s emergency service]
While waiting for first aid to arrive, a large, physically powerful man turned up. He was not wearing a uniform. He used one hand to pin me to the wall, and the other to slap me hard across the face, forehand and backhand, again, and again, and again. The pressure on my chest alone was unbearable. I couldn’t speak and could hardly breathe, and on top of that I was being pounded in the head. He knocked me half unconscious.
About 20 minutes later the ambulance came. First, domestic security wouldn’t let them examine me, and called them outside for a word. Later, a young medic surnamed Wang came in and inspected me — a very cursory examination. There was no treatment, no medication. He just said “the case requires further observation” and left.
Yin Zhuo brought me to a place in the apartment outside the view of the camera and said: “Xie Yang, you’ve been a lawyer for only three years. You couldn’t have done too many wicked things even if you did it every day, so all you have to do now is implicate Yang Jinzhu (杨金柱) and Cai Ying (蔡瑛), and we’ll release you on bail. This is what the boss says.” He went on and on trying to talk me into it.
I said that I had little contact with Yang Jinzhu, I’d only eaten a meal and had a drink with Cai Ying, and that I had no idea what they’d done.
They also wanted me to implicate more lawyers involved in the Jiansanjiang incident. They promised me that if I implicated others, I would be released on bail, and that reporting malefactors is recognized by law as “merit,” and so on.
No matter how much they wanted me to write this, I wouldn’t write it. I cannot harm other people. They said that they can just write it themselves and have me sign it. I told them not to do that, and that I haven’t even had much contact with those people. They showed me a letter that Liu Jinbin (刘金滨) had written to me.
The above are the notes I made while listening to Xie Yang on December 23. I left Changsha that night.
7. Making the First Transcript of Interviews
I made the first transcript of the interviews from January 4-6, 2017.
Let me first discuss the connection between myself and Liu Zhengqing. Old Liu and I have known each other for years, but this was the first time we worked together on a case, and Xie Yang is a mutual friend and colleague. Xie Yang thought highly of my writing skills and urged me to be the first defense counsel, and to work together with Old Liu. Old Liu is half bald, and the hair that’s left is grey. His face looks like it’s seen an age, like he’s over 70. All this imperceptibly adds to his prestige and the power of his speech. Actually, he’s the same age as lawyer Zhao Yonglin (赵永林) — they were both born in 1964.
We agreed that Old Liu would take care of filing complaints, while I’d be the one to write them up. Xie Yang is a stubborn fellow — if he wants to do something, I can’t talk him out of it. I’m the younger one in the relationship, and will oblige the older one — not the other way around. This is where Old Liu came in handy.
Xie Yang’s wife knows his character very well, and she knows that Old Liu is able to overpower Xie Yang. On the afternoon of January 4, I went in first to see Xie Yang while Old Liu went to the court to hand over the paperwork. After that he came to join me in the No. 2 West Meeting Room at the detention center. Xie Yang was in a rage at the police falsifying evidence and lying, and he was about to blow up. At the meeting room, Xie Yang and I were talking, Old Liu said to Xie Yang: “Listen to me, Xie Yang. You’ve got to listen to our advice. Don’t act rashly. You’ve been locked up for a year and a half, and you don’t know what’s going on on the outside. Don’t think that you’re so great. Right now your wife has left a far better impression on the world than you. Your wife said that if you didn’t listen to us, she’d dismiss Jiangang and not let him come anymore….” Xie Yang fell silent for a good while. In the end, he mumbled reluctantly: “I authorized my wife to engage or fire lawyers, as a way of resisting government designating lawyers for me, not as a way to contain me….” But in the end Xie Yang accepted our ideas.
We then started working on the transcript. Old Liu sat by, I asked questions, and Xie Yang answered, one after another. The surveillance cameras should have caught the entire process very clearly.
From the afternoon of the January 4th (Wednesday) until Saturday afternoon, we made the transcript. Because of the character input method I was using, it was easy to input time — I hit ‘s’ and ‘j’ and it would give a timestamp, so I’d output the time at the beginning and end of the sessions.
Men don’t cry easy. But over those three days, Xie Yang and I both shed tears regularly, again showing the effect of an evil system in destroying human nature, as well as the sins and tragic brutality that come along with government power that acts with impunity. During the sleepless nights that followed I would recall scenes from our conversation. Xie Yang, in his prison garb, mussed hair, scraggly beard, exhausted with no lustre in his eyes, described how he worried that he’d be beaten to death and that his family wouldn’t know where he died. As he wept, I reached out to him and began weeping too. When describing how the security agent Yin Zhuo and others threatened the lives of his wife and daughter, saying they were going to stage a car accident to kill them, Xie Yang cried again. I stopped typing and thumped the table hard and repeatedly with a closed fist.
By Friday morning the transcript of the first interview was finished, and Xie Yang I went over it. After lunch I made a copy at a copyshop outside the detention center and asked Xie Yang to sign it when I saw him in the afternoon.
This was how the first transcript came about.
8. Making the Second Transcript of Interviews
On January 12 to 13, 2017, Xie Yang and I met again, and again transcribed the interviews. The Q and A process was again all carefully captured by the surveillance cameras in the room. On the afternoon of January 13, Xie Yang verified the transcript with a signature.
It’s worth noting that when I arrived for our January 13 meeting, I carried 5-8 visitation permit letters in a folder as I always did. I left the folder in the storage cabinet, but when I came back in the afternoon, they had all vanished. I broke out into a cold sweat — without these letters, I couldn’t visit Xie Yang, and every visitation usually requires several letters. Every time I left for a meeting, I would check twice to make sure. Where were they? I checked to see if there were any surveillance cameras with a view of the storage cabinet, and it seemed there were none. I asked one of the police officers whether there was a camera with a view of the cabinet, and he rebuffed me with: “If you’ve got a problem go ask the boss. I don’t know anything.”
I was just so fortunate, however, to have one last letter, left over from a visit in the Weihai detention center in Shandong. I found it in a courier envelope. This letter saved me. Xie Yang and I successfully met on the afternoon of the 13th, and he signed off on the transcript.
Later, I was mulling it over: is it me who forgot where I put the visitation letters? Or was it something else? On February 28, when Liu Zhengqing came to Changsha and requested a meeting, he was rejected. The reason was explicit: you’re not allowed to meet because the special investigation team has taken Xie Yang away for interrogation. Interrogation has no time limit, and there’s no time allocated for a meeting with lawyers. During all this back and forth, a black satchel of Liu’s also mysteriously went missing. Once I heard this, I no longer wondered about the reasons for the disappearance of those visitation letters of mine.
9. The Lies of the Global Times
Global Times has no shame. Its article “Exposing the truth behind the ‘torture of Xie Yang’: Making up lies to pander to the West” (《揭秘“谢阳遭酷刑”真相：为迎合西方凭空捏造》) didn’t even have a byline. If there’s no byline, how can anyone be held accountable? Who takes responsibility for the truth and accuracy of the reporting? Only garbage media without any sense of shame behave in this manner.
I am an independent lawyer. I work and operate freely and independently. I am not subject to the manipulation or constraints of anyone, and I take full responsibility for the accuracy of every character of the transcripts that I have made and published. Global Times has concocted far too many fake stories, so it thinks that other people do the same. It doesn’t seem to know that truth does exist.
Though Jiang Tianyong and I are good friends, he wouldn’t make up rumors and have me repeat them. Nor would I ever do that. Just because Global Times “reports” by following political directives doesn’t mean everyone else is doing the same.
The last time I saw Jiang Tianyong it was two or three days after New Year’s day in 2016, when he, Li Jinxing (李金星) and a few others went out to eat. I hadn’t seen him since then. Our communication, whether via phone or email, had been even sparser. He hardly ever answered the phone, didn’t use WeChat, and was hard to get ahold of in person. I’m also not used to getting around the internet firewall on my smartphone, so there are almost no communication records between us. It was only after he was apprehended that I found the two messages he’d left for me. The date was between November 15 and November 21. Global Times has no shame when it claims that Xie Yang’s defense lawyer [me] and Jiang Tianyong fabricated claims of torture.
Global Times is a Party mouthpiece. It has nothing to do with truth and everything to do with propaganda.
I have the greatest sympathy for the plight and vulnerability of Jiang Tianyong who, in the hands of those scum, can’t control his own fate. Jiang Tianyong was tortured on numerous occasions, and he made multiple statements denigrating himself. Having experienced the barbaric torture first hand, he told friends that, if he’s tortured, he may very well submit to their demands, because the methods they use are beyond what any human can withstand. An examination of Xie Yang’s testimony makes this clear. Thus, I feel for Jiang Tianyong in the same manner that I feel for Wang Yu and others. They are brave warriors, they are victims of a tyranny, and they are the light of dawn at the end of the night.
In all of the interviews Xie Yang gave, he never denied the torture he experienced. Xie Yang said that when he demanded someone call 120 for a doctor, it was due to his own illness, not because he’d been beaten. That’s what he said in the interview, and it does not negate the fact that he was tortured.
He said on camera that he now gets about nine hours sleep a night, and this seems to be the situation currently — but it does not negate the torture he suffered during the six months of “residential surveillance at a designated location” a year ago. Also, he repeatedly said that the improvement in his conditions of detention was because his lawyers lodged a complaint against abuse, not because the detention center has always been so generous.
It’s similar to when researchers say that during the great famine of 1958, millions died, and then the fifty-cent commentators say that in the year 2000 everyone can afford to eat their fill. Are these two things related? Does one negate the other?
Xie Yang is now healthy and can walk and climb stairs normally — but do these facts have any logical relation to the six months of torture he experienced after July 11, 2015? Does the fact that he can climb stairs now negate the fact that he was subjected to severe sleep deprivation?
Xie Yang seems talkative in the Global Times interview. He might have spoken about the torture and then the improvement, except that he was not informed of the cynical use of the interview. I’d be surprised if Global Times has any credibility anywhere in the world.
11. The Hunan Procuratorate’s ‘Investigation’
The so-called investigation by the Hunan Procuratorate was neither fair nor just. In totalitarian China, all of the powers of the judicial, procuratorial, police, and public security organs are one, and those in power can do whatever they want. In Xie Yang’s case, he was accused of the crime of opposing the Party and opposing socialism. The investigation was conducted by the Party, the review was carried out by the Party, the trial will also be presided over by the Party. Now that Xie Yang’s torture has become an international scandal, the investigation was again done under the leadership of the Party. Everything is handled by the Party — in other words the Party is the player and the referee at the same time. This scandalous power structure is sacred in China and must be preserved and praised. It’s always for repression, never for truth, fairness, or justice. The “investigation” then is a coverup, and another attack on Xie Yang and his defense counsel.
Let’s examine their facile logic. One of the prosecutors said they did an experiment: they found someone who was slightly shorter than Xie Yang, sat him on a stack of five plastic stools, and found that his feet could still reach the ground, supposedly thus proving that Xie Yang was lying.
In Xie Yang’s transcript, he said they used “a number of plastic stools stacked atop one another,” and that he was forced to sit on top, “leaving my legs to dangle.” Did he specify how many stools were used and the size of the stools? If 5 stools were too short for feet to dangle from, would 10, or 20 be high enough?
12. The Surveillance Camera
The evidence with the most probative value, of course, is that which is recorded by video camera. According to a long-standing law, individuals charged with political crimes must have their interrogations recorded. But in Xie Yang’s case files, there is no surveillance recording, and in its place is a note by the investigators: “Due to the decrepitude of the equipment, there was no recording of the interrogation.” If the equipment was not functional, then you shouldn’t have conducted the interrogation. Has anyone been sold on these shameless lies?
13. Gratitude to Lawyer Zhang Zhongshi
One individual I have come to respect deeply when dealing with 709 cases is lawyer Zhang Zhongshi (张重实). I can’t match his exertions, and I couldn’t bear what he regularly withstands. Zhang Zhongshi was the first defense attorney that Xie Yang’s wife hired. His law firm and family are in Xiangtan (湘潭), Hunan. He’s traveled from Xiangtan to Changsha over 100 times to take care of Xie Yang’s case. He visited every single related government office, and on each occasion affected a respectful, solicitous demeanour, quietly putting up with their insults and bullying, all for the purpose of just being able to meet his client, Xie Yang. So-called “residential surveillance at a designated location” should not be a black jail; the detainee should be able to freely meet their own attorneys and family members — but the lawyers have been stripped of all these rights. After six months in a black jail, Xie Yang was formally arrested, but still the authorities prevented his meeting with lawyers in the name of “endangering state security,” and “interrogation by prosecutors.”
Xie Yang’s wife told me that on one occasion, a junior police officer clad in a black uniform looked at Zhang Zhongshi and rebuked him: “You’re a lawyer but you don’t know the law?” But Zhang didn’t return fire on this upstart, who was young enough to be his son or daughter. He simply kept the smile on his face and patiently explained what the law actually stipulates. I couldn’t have done this. Xie Yang couldn’t have done it. Many of us couldn’t have done it.
Zhang Zhongshi was not alone. Lawyer Cheng Hai (程海) in Beijing, lawyer Lin Qilei, lawyer Yu Wensheng (余文生), and lawyer Ma Lianshun (马连顺) in Henan, as well as others, have all persevered and persisted. I have to acknowledge that I couldn’t have done what they have done.
To lawyer Zhang, I give my gratitude — and so does Xie Yang.
March 2, 2017
Transcript of Interviews with Lawyer Xie Yang (1) – Arrest, Questions About Chinese Human Rights Lawyers Group
Transcript of Interviews with Lawyer Xie Yang (2) – Sleep Deprivation
Transcript of Interviews with Lawyer Xie Yang (3) – Dangling Chair, Beating, Threatening Lives of Loved Ones, and Framing Others
Translated from Chinese (《陈建刚律师：会见谢阳前后》) by China Change.
Chen Jinxue, Qin Chenshou, March 1, 2017
On March 1, 2017, the Global Times, led by Hu Xijin (胡锡进), published a report claiming that it has interviewed Jiang Tianyong. As Jiang Tianyong’s defense lawyers, we make the following statement:
1. Defense lawyers have applied no fewer than three times to meet Jiang Tianyong (江天勇) since his disappearance on November 21, 2016, to no avail. The reason given to us is that meeting our client would obstruct the investigation or possibly divulge state secrets — yet apparently unrelated parties, and Global Times journalists, claim to have seen Jiang Tianyong.
Our position has always been: lawyers meeting their clients cannot possibly obstruct the investigation or divulge state secrets, and according to the Criminal Law, when a person has been subjected to coercive measures, his or her lawyers shall meet with the client promptly. This is also an internationally-recognized standard for criminal procedures aimed at transparency. Furthermore, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) also repeatedly reiterates this right.
We are concerned about whether there is any legal basis for allowing Global Times journalists, whose credibility and trustworthiness are questionable, to meet Jiang Tianyong while denying lawyers’ access, and we seek to know whether the government is abusing power in doing so. A quick consultation of the law makes clear that there is no law granting a greater priority to so-called journalists or unrelated parties than to lawyers to see their client, and that this is a typical act of the government abusing its power. Global Times is humiliating Jiang Tianyong, and also lawyer Xie Yang (谢阳), by parading them before the media and trying them unlawfully through public opinion.
As Jiang’s defense lawyers, we condemn the Changsha Public Security Bureau and Global Times for these illegal acts, and we will initiate to a series of legal actions immediately, filing complaints and bringing suits.
2. Keeping captives in long-term solitary confinement, and preventing them from seeing their lawyers and family, at the very least violates the provision against “degrading treatment or punishment” as stipulated in the United Nations’ Convention Against Torture. If the solitary confinement extends to three years, or if corporal punishment or a disguised form thereof is employed — such as cruel psychological torture — then it is outright torture. Torture and abusive treatment are often difficult to separate, and abuses often follow closely behind torture. In assessing the length and specific circumstances of their detention, there is every reason to believe that Xie Yang and Jiang Tianyong have been abused in custody, and the lengthy denial of visitation by their lawyers or family members simply adds to reasonable suspicions that the two have in fact been tortured.
3. The authorities giving access to Jiang Tianyong to Hu Xijin’s media, under the circumstances that his own lawyers cannot even reach him, can only be seen as a way of legitimizing, defending, and attempting to erase the abuse suffered in custody. The intent is malicious and the obvious fawning to state power contemptible. The lawyers of Jiang Tianyong do not approve of the interview having taken place or of its content.
4. A so-called “investigation team” is purportedly investigating Xie Yang’s torture and mistreatment, yet it does not include Xie Yang’s own defense lawyers, members of the lawyers association to which Xie Yang belongs, independent forensic experts, or any other independent third parties. The “report” it produces will not meet the requirements of the UN Convention Against Torture (CAT) in terms of principle, procedure and personnel. It will have no credibility to speak of and will be nothing but a laughingstock.
5. We are indignant about the fact that, in dealing with Jiang Tianyong’s case, the public security authorities have more than once brought media, who are unrelated parties, to see our client while repeatedly denying the right of Jiang Tianyong’s lawyers or his family members to see him. On December 16, 2016, public security authorities provided a news release to The Paper (《澎湃》) and other outlets smearing Jiang. In China, the government controls all media while the lawyers and families have no platform to speak to the public about the matter. Such a stark contrast and imbalance hinders the exposure of torture and other inhumane treatment. Nor does it help the investigation and punishment of those responsible.
6. We demand that the Changsha Public Security Bureau immediately arrange lawyers to meet with Jiang Tianyong, stop the inhumane treatment, and brief defense lawyers about his case.
All China Lawyers Association 中华全国律师协会
Lawyers Association of Guangzhou 广东省（广州市）律师协会
Lawyers Association of Nanjing 广西区（南宁市）律师协会
Changsha Public Security Bureau 长沙市公安局（直属分局)
Hunan People’s Procuratorate (Changsha People’s Procuratorate) 湖南省检察院（长沙市检察院）
Supreme People’s Procuratorate 最高人民检察院
Ministry of Public Security 公安部
Lawyer Chen Jinxue, Guangdong Lucheng Dingbang Law Firm
广东律成定邦律师事务所, 陈进学律师, Tel. 13826002506
Lawyer Qin Chenshou, Guangxi Baijuming Law Firm
广西百举鸣律师事务所, 覃臣寿律师, Tel. 15289649064
March 1, 2017
Transcript of Interviews with Lawyer Xie Yang (1) – Arrest, Questions About Chinese Human Rights Lawyers Group
Transcript of Interviews with Lawyer Xie Yang (2) – Sleep Deprivation
Transcript of Interviews with Lawyer Xie Yang (3) – Dangling Chair, Beating, Threatening Lives of Loved Ones, and Framing Others
Translated from Chinese by China Change.