July 13, 2017
Nobel Peace laureate Liu Xiaobo, who received international attention for his role in the Tiananmen Square protests and was serving an 11-year sentence for “inciting subversion of state power” died of liver cancer on Thursday. The 61-year-old is merely the latest example of the life-shortening effect of time spent in Chinese prison.
Liu was granted medical parole, but the Chinese government refused to fully release him from custody. Human rights advocates say Liu’s case fits a deliberate pattern in Chinese prisons, where dissidents are routinely denied health care and forced to endure harsh prison conditions that aggravate their illnesses.
“They give people medical parole when they are under political pressure to do so, meaning that they don’t particularly want people to die on their watch,” China director of the Human Rights Campaign Sophie Richardson told RFA.
“There are cases where people are let out because they are so sick they couldn’t be treated properly in detention. But there are certainly cases where that is not true,” she said.
Hu told the New York Times that doctors had repeatedly misdiagnosed his abdominal pain as a side stitch. It was not until he was released from prison that he was diagnosed with acute pancreatitis.
“His cirrhosis of the liver and now this acute pancreatitis are related to his time in jail,” Beijing rights lawyer Sui Muqing told RFA in an earlier report.
The deteriorating health of Chinese women’s rights activist Su Changlan, who was found guilty of “incitement to subvert state power” by the Foshan Intermediate People’s Court in southern Guangdong Province, also received international attention last month after a medical parole request made earlier this year by her husband was denied.
Speaking to RFA in mid-May, Jin Bianling, the wife of lawyer Jiang Tianyong, who went missing in November 2016, said she was kept in the dark about his whereabouts and condition for months.
“We have recently learned from a sympathetic official source in Changsha that Jiang Tianyong has been tortured. There is a problem with his feet. They are so swollen that he can’t stand up. He may be crippled for life,” Jin told RFA.