Latest on January 14: Li Chunfu has been diagnosed today as having symptoms of schizophrenia and hospitalized. We learned from relatives that he was subjected to severe torture during his six months of “residential surveillance at a designated place,” China’s term for secret detention. More details to come. Once again, we urge the international human rights community to immediately begin an investigation into the extreme abuse that Li Chunfu, Li Heping, Wang Quanzhang, Wu Gan, Jiang Tianyong, and others targeted in the 709 arrests have suffered. – The Editors
Hours ago China Change posted Wang Qiaoling’s first report of her brother-in-law, lawyer Li Chunfu, who was released “on bail” after being detained incommunicado for 18 months as part of the sweeping “709 crackdown.” This is her update. – The Editors
Yesterday, January 13, at 2:00 p.m., Wang Qiaoling (王峭岭) and Li Wenzu (李文足) — the wives of arrested lawyers Li Heping (李和平) and Wang Quanzhang (王全璋) respectively — as well as a number of lawyer peers, rushed to the home of Li Chunfu (李春富) and his wife. Chunfu was able to recognize them, but couldn’t form coherent sentences.
Within an hour he had muttered to his wife over 20 times: “Bi Liping, don’t hide anything from me!”
He recognized that I was his sister-in-law and tried to talk to me, but he trailed off before finishing the first sentence, hanging his head low as though in pain. He kept saying that he had a pain in his heart. His wife told us: “Last night he was saying that he felt like insects were biting his body inside, that his heart had been eaten away by bugs bit by bit, and there wasn’t much of it left!” The sadness we felt as we heard this while gazing on his lifeless face is difficult to put into words.
Later on I asked Chunfu: “Have you called your mum and dad back home?” He turned to me blankly, and, after a long pause, muttered to himself: “How could I have forgotten that?”
A relative who took him on a small walk through the residential compound said: “Chunfu didn’t dare leave the apartment. I had to promise him repeatedly that I’d definitely accompany him back before he agreed.”
As they walked, Chunfu would dart his eyes in all directions as he spoke: “We have to make sure that we stay within the surveillance perimeter when we walk. We can’t go outside the area.”
This wasn’t the lawyer Li Chunfu of 18 months ago. That Li Chunfu dropped out of school at age 14, went south for work, got stabbed, slept in a cemetery, then managed to become a lawyer after six years of gruelling self-study. He had been taken into custody because of the human rights cases he had taken on — he had been locked in a steel cage, battered, and threatened, but that hadn’t changed him. I never imagined that 18 months of jail would torment him to the point of a mental breakdown, leaving him broken and paranoid.
Come evening when we were due to leave, he gripped his lawyer friend who came with us in a tight hug, saying: “Please, keep an eye on what they do to me!”
I thought that these were his true thoughts.
Shortly after we left, he discovered his wife’s conversation with us and was scared, shouting at her: “Who said you could tell them that I’m back? The police said no!” Before his wife was able to offer an explanation — “I didn’t” — he slapped her in the face!
Finally I must correct a detail in my initial report of Chunfu’s return: Chunfu was not brought home by the police. Instead, his wife was called to the neighborhood police station at Jiaowang Village, Tongzhou District (通州区焦王庄派出所) to take him home. Why did I make this mistake? Because that was what Chunfu’s friend told me, and his family was sternly warned by public security authorities not to tell the world what happened, including how he got home…
Family of the 709 lawyers:
Wang Qiaoling (wife of Li Heping)
Li Wenzu (wife of Wang Quanzhang)
On the morning of January 14, 2017
An addendum by China Change:
Several lawyer friends took Li Chunfu to a hospital in Beijing for a check up Saturday morning. This is some of what Chunfu said to them:
“I thought I’d never seen you all again…”
“What place is this? I hope nothing will go wrong.”
“Will something go wrong if we’re seen together? Are you sure?”
“Will the police show up?”
“Please don’t leave me alone.”
“Jiangang, I really want to cry.”