Wife of Chinese human rights lawyer accused local police of torturing him in detention
After being formally arrested by the police in June, Chinese human rights lawyer Ding Jiaxi’s wife Luo Shengchun wrote on Sunday that she received information showing that Ding was tortured while being in detention. Li Qiaochu, the girlfriend of prominent human rights activist Xu Zhiyong, worried that Xu could also be suffering from the same fate.
Ding was arrested by police in Shandong Province after attending a private gathering in Xiamen City in December, 2019. He was officially arrested and charged with “inciting subversion of state power” last month, but his wife wrote on Twitter on Sunday that information she’s gathered suggests Ding is subject to multiple forms of torturing in the detention center.
Luo wrote on Twitter that Ding has been deprived of sleep for a long period of time and the guards have been using noises to harass him. Additionally, they will keep the light in his cell on for 24 hours. “Authorities at the detention center will also ask Ding to sleep in the same position and sit in the same position for a long period of time,” Luo wrote on Twitter.
“He would even have to sit in an iron chair placed inside an iron cage while being interrogated. Sometimes, the detention center would deprive him of his meals or only give him very little portion during meal time.”
Luo said that local authorities sent more than 100 police officers to monitor Ding and others while they were put under Residential Surveillance at a Designated Location (RSDL.) “They kept increasing the level of crimes and depicted the private gathering in Xiamen as the founding meeting for an illegal organization,” Luo said.
Previously, Ding Jiaxi and Xu Zhiyong’s lawyers tried to visit both of them at the detention center in Linyi City several times, but their applications were all rejected by the police department in Linyi City. According to Luo and Li Qiaochu, Xu Zhiyong’s girlfriend, while the detention center and the police department both confirmed that Ding and Xu were kept at the detention center, the electronic system didn’t have their names.
When Xu’s sister tried to visit him at the detention center last week, she couldn’t find their names. Officers at the police department told her that the team handling the “1226 Mass Arrest” forbade any officer from entering Xu and Ding’s names into the digital system.
Luo said she and Ding’s lawyer have drafted an open letter to the police department based on the Chinese government’s guidelines overseeing sharing public information. They asked the police department to enter Ding Jiaxi and Xu Zhiyong’s names as well as relevant information about their cases into the official system. According to government regulations, the police department has 20 days to respond to Luo’s request. She hasn’t received any response from the police department.
“I could only imagine the pain that Jiaxi has been going through at the detention center,” Luo said. “Comparing to their ways of torturing human rights lawyers during the ‘709 Mass Arrest,’ the law enforcements in Shandong use smarter ways to treat Ding. In order to avoid leaving any scars or marks on them, they no longer physically punish them,”
“They choose to torture these detainees through ways that won’t leave any marks on them, which I think is a very evil behavior. I couldn’t see Jiaxi now, so I can’t imagine his current status. The tortures that he’s going through are invisible and that’s the most worrying part.”
Li Qiaochu also wrote on Twitter that she’s worried about Xu and Ding’s health conditions, and she’s concerned that the two of them would be tortured while being in solitary confinement.
Luo said the Chinese government used the standard practice of “secret detention” in Ding and Xu’s cases, as the same practice has been used on other dissidents before. “They will first charge them with ‘inciting subversion of state power,” and refuse to let lawyers meet the detainees on the ground of ‘national secret,’” said Luo.
“Their intentions are so clear that everyone can easily understand it. As long as you analyze other similar cases in the past, you can easily understand why they are resorting to secret detention.”
Leo Lan, the Research and Advocacy Consultant for the DC-based China Human Rights Defender, described the new details emerging from Ding’s case as “appalling.” He said there is no way to check how Ding was treated in custody when his lawyer can’t meet him.
“UN experts and committee on torture have repeatedly raised concerns about exposing detainees to high risk of torture while detained under RSDL. There’s simply no check and balance of the police’s power in using such measure to detain a person.”
Despite having to fight for Ding Jiaxi’s freedom from abroad, Luo Shengchun pledged that she will continue to dig for information related to cases involving secret detention in China. She wants to use the information to show the international community how Beijing is using secret detention to spread fear among the Chinese people.
She also said that while Li Qiaochu is facing a lot of pressure from local police, she thinks Li should keeps speaking up for Xu Zhiyong. “Li needs to engage in a long-term fight with the Chinese government and when she faces threats from the police, she needs to have the courage to deal with it,” Luo said.
This article was first published in Mandarin on DW’s Chinese website.