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Jailed Changsha NGO worker subjected to physical abuse, mistreatment in jail: wife

The wife of one of the Changsha Funeng NGO workers jailed in the central Chinese province of Hunan says he is being subjected to physical abuse and mistreatment in Chishan Prison.

Changsha Funeng co-founder Yang Zhanqing, who now lives in the U.S., has previously said that the three men were targeted because their rights work had received overseas funding, which the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP) regards as “collusion with hostile foreign forces,” and a threat to its national security.

Changsha Funeng sought to prevent discrimination and ensure equality in line with Chinese law by using the courts to strengthen protections for individuals living with disabilities and with HIV/AIDS and other communicable diseases.

Shi Minglei, wife of Cheng Yuan, recently received a handwritten letter form her husband detailing his treatment while serving a sentence for “subversion of state power” handed down by the Changsha Intermediate People’s Court in August 2020. She spoke to RFA about the contents of the letter:

The letter said that as soon as he got out of the van, he was taken to the high-security wing, where he was detained for three months until April 18. Anyone who has been in a high-security prison area knows that it forms part of a correctional center, also called a strict management center, with poor food and substandard living conditions.

There were hourly roll calls taken through the night, and there was a lot of physical abuse, like forced duck-walks, and many other kinds of psychological and physical abuse. The treatment in high-security prisons is tantamount to torture. What I heard is that they learned from the experience of the concentration camps in Xinjiang.

He [included one quotation, a couple lines of poetry] written in pain by [Chinese historian] Sima Qian after being tortured, very severely. What this means is that Cheng Yuan has never confessed or pleaded guilty, so they sent him to a high-security jail to try to force him to ‘confess.’

He also used a couple lines of poetry to express in a very cryptic way … that he is getting up before daylight to do forced labor and getting back very late from the workshop. He only has two hours to himself in which he has to wash himself and his clothes, so he’s also not getting enough time to rest.

For example, the molding workshop contains chemicals and harmful gases, and there isn’t even any basic protection. They only get regular masks or even fabric masks. Washing frequently doesn’t have any protective effect. They distribute disposable medical masks only when the prison leaders come round on a tour of inspection.

[Taiwan political activist and former inmate] Lee Ming-cheh told me that most prisoners are taken straight to prison, and even maybe to study centers for study, but not to the high-security wing.

High-security prisons are places meant for punishing existing inmates. Cheng Yuan had done nothing wrong when he went to Chishan Prison, but he was taken to the high-security wing, which is standard practice for torture.

Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.