China: Family Members Detail Abuse of Detained Rights Lawyers

March 2, 2017

Following the sweeping “709” crackdown on dozens of rights lawyers and activists in July 2015, at least three lawyers remain in detention without having been tried: , , and Wang Quanzhang. Lawyer  disappeared in November 2016 and is being held on suspicion of “leaking state secrets.” Details of abuse and mistreatment of detainees have come to light in recent months, including an account of torture of Xie Yang that he provided to his lawyers in late 2016. This week, several family members of detained lawyers have issued an open letter to foreign political leaders detailing mistreatment of their loved ones in prison, including those who have since been released. China Change has translated the letter:

The majority of the lawyers and citizens targeted in the 709 arrests were placed in secret detention facilities known as “residential surveillance in a designated place” for six months, during which time they were tortured. Following is a summary of the four main categories of they were subjected to.

1) Forced consumption of drugs. Whether the internees were in good health or not, they were all made to take medication. The most common were drugs, so was it claimed, to treat high blood pressure. Other common drugs included tranquilizers or barbiturates of various sorts, as well as antipsychotic drugs. […]

2) Marathon interrogation sessions and sleep deprivation. Wearying interrogation sessions became practically mandatory for 709 detainees. They were regularly called in for questioning and prevented from sleeping. […]

3) Beatings, leg torture, and water dungeons. Being slugged was a daily occurrence. Worse was torture of the legs applied by guards. The prisoner, sitting on the ground, would have their legs forced onto a metal bar elevated about a foot off the ground. Another bar would be dropped across their thighs, and then someone would sit on top of it. If the victim still didn’t confess, another helper would add weight, causing excruciating pain. […]

4) Threats to the lives, or freedom, of family members. The lives and freedom of prisoners’ wives and sons have been threatened. One of the prisoner’s son was taken into custody by public security officials, who threatened to formally arrest him if the prisoner didn’t confess; on other occasions, the father and brother of prisoners were arrested and held as long as the prisoner refused to confess. […] [Source]

The letter also provides details about the abuse suffered by Xie Yang, who was charged in January with “inciting subversion,” but has not yet been tried:


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