Nearly a year ago, on November 28, 2016, Sichuan rights activist Huang Qi (黄琦) was detained by police in Chengdu and formally arrested the following month on suspicion of “illegally providing state secrets abroad.” Huang, a founder of 64 Tianwang Human Rights Center, has been in custody without a formal charge ever since, and his lawyers have not even been permitted to read his case files. He is being held at the Mianyang Municipal Detention Center. The procuratorate of Mianyang has sent back the case at least once to the police for further investigation.
Huang is suffering from multiple ailments, including a serious kidney condition (crescentic glomerulonephritis) that puts him at risk of acute renal failure. His other medical conditions involve the heart, brain, and liver. The authorities have denied multiple requests made by Huang’s family and lawyers for his release on medical parole.
In a meeting on November 3 with one of his lawyers, Li Jinglin (李静林), Huang Qi showed the bruises on his legs that resulted from the several beatings he suffered in October from fellow detainees, who, Huang said, were egged on by a detention center policeman. He also told lawyer Li that he was not allowed to use the money that his mother had sent to his account to buy better food and other daily necessities, including toilet paper, reducing him to using his hands and water to clean himself. (See below for HRIC-translated excerpts from Lawyer Li’s account of his meeting with Huang.)
In July, after the death in custody of Liu Xiaobo (刘晓波), prominent intellectual and Nobel Peace Laureate, Huang’s mother, Pu Wenqing (蒲文清), 84, expressed fear that Huang would not live to leave detention. Huang’s other lawyer, Sui Muqing (隋牧青), who met with him on November 6, also expressed concern that Huang’s medical needs are not being met in detention.
The police accusation against Huang was based on information from a Mianyang municipal government department document (setting out next steps to crackdown on Huang Qi and a petitioner) that Huang posted on the 64 Tianwang website. The lawyers argue that the information was not classified as “secret” when Huang posted it on his website, but that the classification was added on retroactively.
Background on Huang Qi
Huang Qi is a veteran rights defender active online in China to promote information access by citizens and official accountability, including founding the Tianwang Missing Persons (天网寻人) website to help people find missing relatives, and the 64 Tianwang website (http://www.64tianwang.com) to provide rights defense related information and assistance to vulnerable groups. Following the Sichuan earthquake, he published an investigative report exposing the “tofu” school buildings that collapsed during the earthquake, which killed thousands. He has previously been imprisoned twice, serving eight years in total. As a result of beatings and other abuses he suffered during his previous imprisonment, Huang Qi developed accumulation of fluid in the brain, rheumatic heart disease, and other ailments. In 2010, Huang Qi was also diagnosed with chronic renal failure and other conditions, requiring large quantities of medication daily.
Excerpts from Record of Meeting with Huang Qi, November 3, 2017
By Lawyer Li Jinglin
. . .
We met in the same old place. Huang came out, and appeared more energetic than last time. He looked a bit thinner; the swelling was gone. The first thing Huang did was to roll up his pants and show me a big bruise on the inside of his left calf. He said that the mark was left by his cellmates who were egged on by a police official at the Center named Yang Maorong to beat him many times between October 24 and October 26. Yang once yelled at Huang in his cell: “I don’t believe I can’t put you in your place.” Because the news had gotten out that Huang, sick, was being forced to stand up and be on duty for four to six hours a day, higher-level cadres of the detention center came to learn more information, but their visit led to nothing.
Apart from being beaten, Huang was suffering from discrimination at the center, where all detainees are allowed to buy high-priced, better food to supplement their nutrition, but not him. He had no idea how much money his mother and other people sent him. Except for toothpaste and toothbrushes, the restrictions apply also to other daily necessities, including toilet paper, forcing him to use water to clean himself up every time he went to the toilet. Huang asked me to have his mother try to get back the money she deposited at the detention center for him. If it refuses to return the money, she should sue the detention center.
Huang told me that a police officer at the detention center told him that the poor treatment he is getting is a result of demands from the case-handling unit. How long can he hold on for, with his heart condition, kidney inflammation, and liver cysts?