Human Rights in China (HRIC) has received a letter from Zhang Qing, the wife of Guo Feixiong (also known as Yang Maodong) detailing Guo's torture in detention and asking HRIC to forward the letter to Manfred Nowak, the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture. In her letter, Zhang calls on the Special Rapporteur to investigate Guo's case and draw attention to his cruel and inhumane treatment in detention. A full translation of Zhang Qing's letter is appended to this press release.
HRIC has previously reported on the Guo's case and its legal developments. According to the information Zhang Qing has provided to HRIC, Guo has been held in detention since September 14, 2006, during which he has been repeatedly tortured simply because he will not admit to having committed any crime and because he refuses cooperate with the authorities' interrogations. Zhang says that Guo has been repeatedly subjected to torture and inhumane treatment in the pretrial detention facility in order to extract a confession from him. Tactics used by police have included shackling Guo's arms and legs to a bed for weeks at a time, and extended periods of sleep deprivation.
Zhang Qing says Guo experienced the worst treatment after being transferred to a detention center in Shenyang. There interrogators tried to extract a confession from Guo by shackling his hands behind his back, sitting him on a stool and striking his genitalia with a high-voltage electric rod. The last such instance was in March this year. Guo has since been transferred back to Guangzhou.
Guo, who provided legal advice in a number of controversial rights defense cases, was detained on September 14 and formally arrested on September 30, 2006, on suspicion of "illegal business activity" in connection with editing a book published in Liaoning Province regarding a political scandal in Shenyang City. HRIC recently reported that after the case had been shuttled between Liaoning and Guangzhou, Guo will finally go on trial on June 15 in Guangzhou's Tianhe District Court.
HRIC condemns the abuse and torture that Guo Feixiong has been subjected to in detention, and calls upon the authorities to immediately ensure his physical safety, including granting him access to medical care and international observers. HRIC calls on the Chinese government to implement its obligations under the UN Convention Against Torture, which prohibits torture, and the PRC Criminal Procedure Law which prohibits the extraction of confessions through torture. Further, in advance of its review by the United Nations Committee Against Torture in November 2008, HRIC calls on the authorities to investigate the allegations of abusive treatment of Guo in detention and take steps to ensure that he is not subject to further abuse.
To: Manfred Nowak, UN Special Rapporteur on Torture
I am the wife of rights defender Guo Feixiong (also known as Yang Maodong), who was involved in the world-renowned incident in Panyu, Guangdong Province, in 2005 during which the Party village committee head of Taishi Village was recalled from office. For assisting the villagers in recalling the village official, Guo was subjected to four months' detention. For taking part in rights defense activities on behalf of farmers, on September 14, 2006, my husband was thrown in prison on trumped-up charges. I would now like to recount to you the facts of my husband's imprisonment and the torture to which he has been subjected, as follows:
Appellant: Chinese citizen Guo Feixiong (originally named Yang Maodong), whose wife Zhang Qing is acting on his behalf in filing this appeal due to his being imprisoned
A. Details of Custody
B. Details of Detention and Arrest
C. Details of Indictment and Trial
D. The Facts of the Use of Torture During Detention
Having provided assistance in several rights defense cases, Guo Feixiong became involved in an incident in 2005 to remove the head of the Taishi Village Party Committee from office, and was hired by the villagers to act as their legal representative. For removing this village cadre according to law, the Taishi villagers were subjected to violent suppression by police dispatched by the local government. In the first stage of this movement, Guo Feixiong provided information to the outside world on developments in Taishi, which attracted a great deal of attention from international media and was widely reported on. For this reason, on September 13 Guo Feixiong was detained by police, placed under criminal detention on suspicion of "gathering a crowd to disturb social order," and held in custody for more than three months, during which time he engaged in protest hunger strikes totaling 59 days. He was released on December 27, 2005. Then, in February, March and August of 2006, Guo Feixiong was attacked and beaten three times by police for no reason.
On September 14, 2006, the Guangzhou police detained Guo on suspicion of "illegal business activities," with their main basis for detention being a book that he published in 2001 in Liaoning Province entitled An Earthquake That Shook the Political World in Shenyang.
On the same day that he was put into prison, on September 14, 2006, he began a 15-day hunger strike in protest of the government's suppression of rights defenders. During his time in detention, because he would not admit to having committed any crime and because he refused to answer the questions put to him by police, he was treated violently by police from the Guangzhou Public Security Bureau in the pretrial (detention) facility, and interrogators took turns working him to exhaustion to try to force a confession out of him, and did not let him sleep for several days and nights. On January 11 of this year, when Guo's lawyer Hu Xiao went to visit Guo in the detention facility, Hu learned that, in order to try to extract a confession from Guo, police from the Guangzhou Public Security Bureau used torture on him and tied him to his bed in leg and arm manacles for 40 days. After that, Guo went on a hunger strike in protest for 25 days.
Because Guo Feixiong went to the prison authorities to complain about the torture inflicted on him, police officers in the pretrial facility carried out vicious acts of revenge on him. They even went so far as to dig their fingernails into their own skin to leave marks, which they then accused Guo of making, and they used this as an excuse to physically abuse him further. Ever since Guo was detained on suspicion of "illegal business activities," he has been interrogated a total of 175 times.
On May 28, Guo's lawyer, Hu Xiao, went again to the Guangzhou No. 3 Detention Center to visit Guo. According to what Guo Feixiong told him, when Guo was transferred to Shenyang, he was treated cruelly and inhumanely in a secret location. On February 12, police who were interrogating Guo tied his manacled hands behind his back, hung him at a 180 degree angle, and then strapped him to a "tiger bench" for four hours. The police used high-voltage electric rods to beat his face and hands, which became swollen. They also used electric rods to beat him about the genitals, and they struck his ears with the electric rods dozens of times.
On March 19, on the 11th day before his period of detention and investigation was to end, the police still had not received a confession from Guo, so they again used severe punishment to try to force a confession. They used electric police batons to viciously and continuously strike him about the genitalia. This brutality went on for five or six minutes.
The above are the facts of the inhumane torture inflicted on my husband since he has been held in detention. On the basis of these facts, I appeal to you, the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture. I devoutly place of all my hopes on you, Mr. Nowak, and I hope that when you hold discussions and negotiations with the Chinese government, you will bring up my husband's case of inhumane and cruel treatment while in a Chinese prison. This type of case is currently very commonplace in China, where so-called human rights—including the right to silence—are luxury items that ordinary citizens have no right to enjoy. At the same time, I most sincerely and earnestly hope that you and the United Nations will pay close attention to my husband's case, and that he will be cleared of all charges, found innocent and released.
Mr. Nowak, I wish to convey to you my deepest respect for the results of your 2005 trip to China to investigate torture in Chinese prisons. Your inspection was extremely meaningful in helping to improve the situation of torture in our prisons. I hope very much that you will visit China again for another inspection, so that real improvements can be made in the area of human rights in China, and so that democracy and China's legal systems can be advanced. Lastly, whatever the outcome of my husband's ordeal is, I would like to express to you my heartfelt and sincere gratitude.
I wish you good health.
Zhang Qing, citizen of China
June 4, 2007
Translated by HRIC