Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is concerned for the survival of Huang Qi, a leading civil rights journalist who will complete a year in detention on 28 November and who is being subjected to mistreatment and violence in prison.
The founder of the 64 Tianwang civil rights website and winner of the RSF Press Freedom Prize in 2004, Huang Qi was arrested at his home in Chengdu, in the western province of Sichuan, on 28 November 2016. A year later, he is still detained provisionally in alarming conditions in Mianyang prison.
According to his lawyer, Li Jinlin, who was able to visit him on 3 November, the 54-year-old Huang has “lost weight,” complains of being “forced to work four to six hours a day” despite being in poor health, and has been beaten several times. A large bruise testified to the violence.
Unlike other detainees, Huang is denied access to medicines, food supplements and other basic supplies that he needs.
“Mistreatment and denial of medical care are common practice in Chinese prisons,” said Cédric Alviani, the head of RSF’s East Asia desk. “Evidence of this was seen in he recent deaths of Nobel peace laureate Liu Xiaobo, also an RSF prize winner, and the blogger Yang Tongyan. Both were the victims of cancer left untreated in detention. We urge the Chinese authorities to show humanity by immediately freeing Huang Qi and all other detainees in poor health.”
Effects of eight previous years in prison
As a result of his journalistic work, which has always focused on the victims of the Chinese state apparatus, Huang had already spent a total of eight years in prison, during which he developed heart problems, nephritis and liver cysts.
His arrest on 28 November 2016 was apparently prompted by what he had written about Sichuan police violence against local petitioners. Eighteen days after his arrest, he was formally detained on the catch-all charge of “illegally providing state secrets abroad,” which in extreme cases is punishable by death.
Other detained Chinese journalists whose lives are in danger include:
- Gao Yu, 73, a well-known reporter who was awarded the Plume d'Or de la Liberté in 1995 and UNESCO’s Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize in 1997. She is under house arrest and is being prevented from travelling abroad to seek treatment.
- Yiu Mantin, 73, a Hong Kong publisher who is serving a ten-year jail term for trying to publish revelations about President Xi Jinping.
- Liu Xia, 56, who is Liu Xiaobo’s widow. The authorities have kept her isolated for the past 10 years.
The world’s biggest prison for journalists and civil rights activists, China is ranked 176th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2017 World Press Freedom Index.
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