A rights activist recently released from prison in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong has described being shackled to a single spot and denied food and water during his incarceration.
Wang Qingying, who was jailed on Jan. 29 by the Intermediate People’s Court in Guangdong’s provincial capital Guangzhou alongside two fellow “Guangzhou Three” activists, spoke to RFA shortly after his release at the end of his two-and-a-half year sentence.
The former teacher said he had been tortured and mistreated while in the police-run detention center ahead of his trial, as police interrogators tried to force him to make a “confession.”
Wang, Tang Jingling and Yuan Xinting were initially criminally detained on May 16, 2014 for “picking quarrels and stirring up trouble,” but the charges were later changed to the more serious subversion charges, of which they were found guilty.
Wang, 34, said that if he refused to confess, the guards would have other inmates beat him up.
“The last time they tortured and mistreated me was last April, and that was the worst time,” Wang said. “They had me manacled and shackled by hands and feet to a single spot.”
“They wouldn’t give me anything to drink. I got one or two mouthfuls of water a day, and one or two mouthfuls of food,” he said.
Wang said he had eventually caved in and signed his “confession” document, and withdrawn a planned appeal to a higher court.
He said he was forced to attend political study sessions and training courses while in prison, but not assigned to any forced labor.
Focus on colleagues still in jail
But Wang says he is thinking of pursuing an appeal now that he is out of prison, calling for continuing attention on Tang and Yuan, who are still serving time.
“I would like to call on people not to forget the people who were sentenced in the same trial as me, Tang Jingling and Yuan Xinting,” Wang said.
“They are still in jail and being forced to undergo political brainwashing and labor, 24 hours a day.”
Rights lawyer Tang, whose advocacy of peaceful civil disobedience earned him the nickname “China’s Gandhi,” is serving a five-year jail term, while fellow activist Yuan is serving three-and-a-half years.
Tang reportedly received a longer sentence than the others because of his position as the leader of their activities.
All three men had played a prominent role in press freedom protests centered on the Southern Weekend newspaper in early 2013, as well as taking part in commemorative activities for the 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen Massacre the following year.
The police charge sheet for Tang mentioned his involvement in “civil disobedience movements,” a commemoration of the death of Mao-era dissident Lin Zhao, and a June 4 meditation event.
Also mentioned was his part in a campaign to end China’s “hukou” household registration system linking access to education and other public services to a person’s town of birth.
Both Tang and Wang have now reported being tortured while initially detained at Baiyun District Detention Center in Guangzhou.
Reported by Hai Nan for RFA’s Cantonese Service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.