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Petitioner Xu Zhengqing Beaten in Prison

February 20, 2007

Human Rights in China (HRIC) has learned that Shanghai petitioner Xu
has been beaten in prison and subjected to generally abusive

Sentenced in October 2005 to three years in prison on
charges of "disrupting public order," Xu was initially held in Shanghai's Putuo
District Detention Center, but on February 22, 2006, was transferred to
Tilanqiao Prison. According to HRIC's sources in China, Xu told his family
during a prison visit in February 2007 that since arriving at Tilanqiao Prison,
he has been subjected to a range of physical abuses because he refuses to admit
wrongdoing or wear a prison uniform. Xu says that he was once placed in
restraints used for psychiatric patients for three days and two nights. He is
being held in a cell with two prisoners sentenced to life imprisonment, who have
reportedly been instructed to watch his every move. His family visits and
telephone conversations are monitored by prison guards, and if he brings up what
the guards consider a sensitive subject, the visit or phone call is abruptly

In November 2006, after Xu said something interpreted as
"sensitive" by the guards, a family visit was terminated in this way. When Xu's
wife visited him in February 2007, she noticed a long scar above his eye. Xu
reportedly told his wife that soon after the terminated family visit in
November, his two cellmates had attacked him and punched him in the face,
causing heavy bleeding from a cut above his eye. Xu's family members believe
prison guards instructed the cellmates to attack him. The guard in charge of
Xu's cell has since been replaced, and no investigation has been made into the

Sources say Xu's present condition is very poor, and that he
suffers from heart disease, kidney stones, arthritis and skin diseases. The
prison authorities have arbitrarily deprived him of mailing privileges,
obstructing letters to his family and to the court. Following the denial of his
appeal in January 2006, Xu asked the prison authorities in October to pass to
the court a letter applying for review of his case. However, when his father
inquired with the Shanghai Municipal People's No. 2 Intermediate Court on
January 22, 2007, he was told that the court had never received that letter.

In addition to physical abuse and obstruction of mail, Xu has also been
periodically denied family visits. For the first year and a half of his
imprisonment, his family members were denied access to Xu, and a visit only came
after vocal concern from the international community and media attention. During
her visit to Xu this month, Xu's wife brought some food for him for the Lunar
New Year, but prison guards did not allow her to give it to him.

Xu was
detained in Beijing on January 29, 2005, during an attempt to attend a memorial
service for former Premier Zhao Zhiyang. Authorities state that Xu disrupted
public order on a public bus by failing to pay his fare, and later on the train
back to Shanghai by shouting that he had been beaten, causing an incident that
congested the train corridor. Although the prosecution did not produce evidence
at Xu's trial on September 13, 2005, on October 17, 2005, Xu was sentenced to
three years in prison. Xu appealed his sentence on January 20, 2006, which was

HRIC urges the Chinese authorities to investigate the
circumstances surrounding the outrageous physical abuse to which Xu has been
subjected. In light of China's upcoming review in May 2008 by the UN Committee
against Torture, the government must take immediate steps to ensure that prison
authorities are not subjecting Xu to torture, and that they are protecting him
from potential abuse by other inmates. HRIC urges the international community to
continue to monitor and highlight Xu's case.