Watch List of Detainees and Prisoners of Conscience in Need of Medical Attention
Depriving medical treatment to individuals in custody is a life-threatening form of torture. Authorities’ failure or refusal to provide adequate medical care for detainees violates Chinese law and, among other international standards, the Convention against Torture, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the Basic Principles for the Treatment of Prisoners. In the Concluding Observations from its review of China in May 2014, the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights expressed its concern about reports that detained Chinese activists and lawyers have been deprived of medical care as a form of government reprisal. Recognizing this serious issue, the Committee urged China to guarantee these individuals “have adequate access to health care in all circumstances.”
The deprivation of medical care to further persecute detainees and prisoners of conscience reflects a tacit central government policy and a systematic pattern in practice. This form of abuse has led to the death of activists, as seen most recently in the tragic case of Cao Shunli (曹顺利). Ms. Cao was managing health conditions at the time she was seized in September 2013, but she was not allowed to take medication that she had brought into detention. After not receiving adequate medical treatment, Cao eventually died in March 2014 from complications of illnesses that worsened or came about during over five months in custody. Others who have died after not being provided medical care in custody include Chen Xiaoming (陈晓明), Duan Huimin (段惠民), and Goshul Lobsang.
CHRD launched our Medical Watch List of Chinese detainees and prisoners of conscience on June 26, 2014, to mark the United Nations’ International Day of Support of Victims of Torture. Below are 13 cases (in alphabetical order) of currently detained or imprisoned individuals who suffer from deteriorating health and have been deprived of adequate medical treatment and denied release on medical grounds. Some of them are experiencing the same pattern of abuse that led to the death of Cao Shunli—a lack of access to adequate medical treatment while in custody, a gradual decline of health and development of new illnesses or injuries from torture, and rejection of (or no response to) requests by lawyers or family members for medical release. CHRD will be updating this list on a regular basis with new information.
CHRD is concerned about the poor health of a number of Chinese prisoners, including Lü Jiaping (吕加平) and Zhu Yufu (朱虞夫).
Mr. Chen Kegui (陈克贵) – Appendicitis
Date of Birth: June 10, 1979 (age 35)
Place of Detention: Linyi Prison, Shandong Province
Chen Kegui, the nephew of activist Chen Guangcheng (陈光诚), is currently serving a 39-month sentence for “intentional injury.” His alleged assault is tied to the events surrounding his uncle’s escape from house arrest in April 2012, as authorities have severely retaliated against Chen Guangcheng’s family.
Chen Kegui is suffering from appendicitis and authorities have repeatedly refused the family’s requests for medical parole. On April 24, 2013, Chen informed his parents he had been diagnosed with appendicitis by the prison doctor, and was being treated with antibiotics but was in pain. The next day, the family requested Chen’s release to receive medical treatment outside of prison, which was rejected and officials refused to accept an application for medical parole. An ultrasound conducted in late April 2013 showed his appendix was inflamed and filled with pus. His mother Ren Zongju (任宗举) visited him in prison in December 2013, and said that he was clutching his abdomen and sweating profusely, and his complexion looked very bad. On January 2, 2014, the family again submitted an application for Chen’s release on medical grounds, but prison authorities refused to accept it.
Mr. Chen Xi (陈西) – Chronic enteritis
Date of Birth: February 28, 1954 (age 60)
Place of Detention: Xingyi Prison, Guizhou Province
Chen Xi, a member of the Guizhou Human Rights Forum, has been serving a 10-year sentence on the charge of “inciting subversion of state power” since January 2012.
Chen’s wife Zhang Qunxuan (张群选) is extremely concerned about the health of her husband, and fears he may die if not given proper medical treatment. Chen is suffering from chronic enteritis, an inflammation or infection of the digestive tract that causes severe diarrhea, dehydration, and fever. Zhang first learned Chen was suffering from a stomach ailment after a visit in January 21, 2014, when he told her he had been having bouts of diarrhea since early December 2013 but had not received effective treatment. After a visit in May 2014, Zhang reported that her husband’s health had not improved; she found that he is very weak and thin, and that his mental state is very poor. Authorities have rejected Chen Xi’s lawyer’s application for medical parole.
Mr. Karma Tsewang ( ཀརྨ་ཚེ་དབང or Khenpo Karma Tsewang མཁན་པོ་ཀརྨ་ཚེ་དབང
堪布尕玛才旺) – Hepatitis, Bacterial tracheitis, tuberculosis
Date of Birth: unknown (age 38)
Place of Detention: Chamdo Public Security Bureau Detention Center, Tibet Autonomous Region
Karma Tsewang, also known as Khenpo Kartse, is a senior monk from the Yulshul (CH: Yushu) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in Qinghai Province, and has been under detention since December 7, 2013.
Karma Tsewang suffers from hepatitis, bacterial tracheitis, tuberculosis, and other diseases that require medical care and attention, but he has been denied treatment and necessary medication. After entering detention, he began suffering from severe back pain and began ejecting bloody sputum. Due to Karma Tsewang’s numerous medical conditions, his lawyer applied for release on bail after a visit on February 26, 2014, but authorities turned down the request, claiming that the case relates to “state stability.” Subjected to other inhumane punishment, Karma Tsewang reportedly is being held in a cell that does not receive sunlight, eats only one meal a day, and is not allowed to bathe.
Ms. Liu Ping (刘萍) – Gallstone surgery recovery, severe diarrhea, rheumatoid arthritis
Date of Birth: December 2, 1964 (age 49)
Place of Detention: Xinyu City Detention Center, Jiangxi Province
Liu Ping, a Jiangxi-based activist, was sentenced to six years and six months in prison on June 19, 2014. She has been held in detention since April 2013.
Liu Ping has been denied medical treatment for severe diarrhea that may have been caused by unsanitary conditions at the detention facility. She was still recovering from surgery for an inflamed gallbladder and gallstones that was performed weeks before she was initially detained in April 2013. Liu also reportedly suffers from rheumatoid arthritis. Liu’s lawyer reported in July 2013 she had become very weak, having lost a great deal of weight while needing to force herself to eat and suffering daily bouts of severe diarrhea. Lawyers requested bail for Liu during her first trial in October 2013, but the trial was suspended.
Police beat her in the days after they took her into custody, and she reported being choked and, having her arms twisted painfully. Later, when Liu was interrogated in the detention center, police repeatedly shoved her head against metal bars, trying to strangle her, and twisted her arms, all while she was shackled. During her second trial in December, her lawyer raised the issue of torture, but the court refused to dismiss evidence or a confession that may have been extracted from torture. The court also refused to file a case to investigate the allegation of torture. Liu’s lawyer applied for release on bail in March 2014, but was rejected.
Ms. Liu Xia (刘霞) – Unknown heart condition, depression
Date of Birth: April 1, 1961 (age 53)
Place of Detention: Illegal house arrest, Beijing
Liu Xia, a poet, has been under house arrest in Beijing since October 2010, and has not been charged with any crime. The restriction of her freedom of movement began after her husband Liu Xiaobo (刘晓波) was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. She has only been able to go out of her residence in the company of national security officers, visitors are not allowed, and telephone and Internet communications have been shut off.
In early February 2014, police accompanied Liu Xia to a Beijing hospital because of symptoms of heart disease — reportedly diagnosed by doctors as a heart attack—and also a throat inflammation. The hospital stopped tests after just one day and sent her home, according to her lawyer, Mo Shaoping (莫少平). Initially, doctors said she would be admitted for two weeks for comprehensive tests. On February 18, Liu Xia was hospitalized for the second time to undergo tests and treatment for a heart condition. Additionally, Liu Xia has mentioned to her lawyer severe depression brought on by isolation and restrictions, but she did not want to see a psychologist, fearing that authorities may send her to a psychiatric hospital against her will. Police have warned her family not to speak publically about her health, and reportedly have refused to allow Liu to travel overseas for medical treatment.
Mr. Lü Jiaping (吕加平) – Heart attack, coronary heat disease, diabetes, gallstones
Date of Birth: June 14, 1941 (age 73)
Place of Detention: Shaoyang City Prison, Hunan Province
Lü Jiaping, a dissident scholar of military history, has been serving a 10-year sentence for “inciting subversion of state power” since 2011.
Lü suffers from several illnesses, including coronary heart disease, diabetes, gallstones, and diseases in his lungs (bronchiectasis) and spine (spinal bone hyperplasia). He suffered a heart attack in late 2011, and was rushed to a hospital in handcuffs and leg shackles. He has been transferred to a prison hospital on at least two occasions—once in September 2012 and again in January 2013, but was subsequently returned to the prison. Reportedly, his illnesses have become more serious and he now suffers from avascular necrosis in the top of his femur bone, according to his son Yu Haochen (于浩宸), who visited Lü in June 2014. He is also losing his hearing and memory, and prison authorities are no longer allowing Lü time outside for fresh air, according to Yu. Lü has had great difficulty sleeping, standing, and walking, and has reportedly fallen several times. His family’s requests for his release on medical parole from both Beijing and Shaoyang authorities have been repeatedly denied. In early June 2012, more than 1,000 people expressed support for his medical parole through a signature campaign. His wife and son have been have been repeatedly harassed by police in reprisal for their efforts to obtain Lü’s release.
Mr. Pu Zhiqiang (浦志强) – Diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol
Date of Birth: January 17, 1965 (age 49)
Place of Detention: Beijing No. 1 Detention Center
Pu Zhiqiang, a human rights lawyer and partner at the Huayi Law Firm in Beijing, was arrested on June 13, 2014 on charges of “creating a disturbance” and “illegally gathering personal information.”
Pu suffers from medical conditions, including diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. Officials confiscated his medication when he arrived at the detention facility in Beijing, and he was later offered pills that he did not recognize. Pu’s lawyer Zhang Sizhi (张思之) visited his client on June 9, 2014, and Pu said he has now been given some treatment for diabetes, including insulin, but that his legs are swollen, a typical sign that a diabetic patient is not being properly treated. He also told Zhang that he has been subjected to interrogation for 10 hours a day, which is likely only to worsen his health. Zhang twice sought Pu’s release on medical grounds, with the second application denied on June 9 on the grounds that Pu would “pose a danger to society” if released.
Mr. Ren Ziyuan (任自元) – Tuberculosis
Date of Birth: October 28, 1979 (age 34)
Place of Detention: Shandong Provincial No. 1 Prison
Ren Ziyuan, a dissident from Shandong Province, has been serving a 10-year sentence for “inciting subversion of state power” since 2006.
In prison, Ren has been tortured, beaten, and denied medical treatment, causing his health to greatly deteriorate. The severe torture caused fractures to Ren’s vertebra and nose, along with many other injuries. Ren’s family requested medical parole but it was rejected. His family members were last allowed to visit him in March 2010, when his father learned that Ren had contracted tuberculosis but was not getting proper medical treatment and had become very thin. Since then, his family have not been allowed any contact with him and the most recent piece of information they received was in 2012 – from a recently released prisoner that said Ren had been put into solitary confinement. His father has since passed away, but his mother continues to try and visit him in prison, and was most recently turned away in December 2013.
Mr. Ilham Tohti (ئىلھام توختى 伊力哈木.土赫提) – Unknown liver condition, heart disease, pharyngitis, prostatitis
Date of Birth: October 25, 1969 (age 44)
Place of Detention: Xinjiang Autonomous Region Public Security Bureau Detention Center, Urumqi City, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region
According to Tohti’s lawyer Li Fangping (李方平), who along with lawyer Wang Yu (王宇) was allowed a visit on June 26, Tohti suffers from a number of medical conditions and has been mistreated in detention. He has liver pain, possibly caused by an unknown liver condition but no tests have been conducted, as well as heart disease, pharyngitis (an inflammation of the pharynx) and prostatitis (infection of the prostate). He told his lawyer he has been give some medication, but the conditions have not been effectively treated. Since being taken into detention, Tohti has had his legs shackled for 20 days, and from March 1-10, after the attack on the Kunming Train Station which the government blamed on Uyghur separatists, he was deprived of food and given just half a liter of water for 10-days. He also went on a hunger strike for 10-days from January 16-26 to protest against the detention center not providing halal food. Since his detention began, he has lost 16 kilos (35 pounds).
Mr. Wang Kouma (王扣玛) – Hypertension, brainstem infarctions (stroke)
Date of Birth: July 17, 1954 (age 59)
Place of Detention: Shanghai Municipal General Prison Hospital
Wang Kouma, an activist from Shanghai, has been serving a 30-month sentence for “creating a disturbance” since September 2013.
Wang is serving his sentence in a prison hospital due to his critical health conditions, but his family fear his life may be in danger and that he has still not received adequate treatment. Wang suffers from hypertension and has had a stroke, or brainstem infarction, caused by an obstruction of blood to his brainstem. Wang is disabled as a result of the stroke. His health situation is so serious that he needed to be hooked up to an oxygen tank in order to appear in court in September 2013. One of his lawyers reported after a visit in December 2013 that Wang was bedridden and on an intravenous drip, and his overall health condition is dire. Doctors in the Shanghai prison hospital were he is currently being held have diagnosed him with multiple infarctions in his brainstem. Wang’s daughter submitted an application for medical parole on December 9, 2013, but local authorities did not respond to the request.
Mr. Wang Yonghang (王永航) – Tuberculosis, pleural and peritoneal effusions
Date of Birth: February 17, 1973 (age 41)
Place of Detention: Shenyang No. 1 Prison, Liaoning Province
Wang Yonghang, a human rights lawyer, has been serving a seven-year sentence for “using a cult to undermine implementation of the law” since 2009.
Wang has been suffering from several serious illnesses in prison and may be paralyzed from torture. His wife Yu Xiaoyan (于晓艳) learned in January 2012 that her husband was infected with tuberculosis, had pleural and peritoneal effusions – the collection of fluid in the chest and abdominal cavities – and was numb from the waist down. Wang is also reportedly so weak that he can barely talk. When police seized Wang on July 4, 2009, he was severely beaten, suffering fractures in his right ankle. The injury was not promptly treated (surgery was not performed until August 11 of that year), which led to a serious infection. The infection has persisted. Wang’s family and lawyer have not been allowed to meet Wang during his detention because, according to the police, his case involves “state secrets.”
While detained in the Dalian City Detention Center, Wang went on a hunger strike to protest the beating of fellow inmates who were Falun Gong practitioners. A prison doctor force-fed Wang, which caused respiratory tract bleeding and nearly fatal suffocation. Guards handcuffed Wang and shackled him to a makeshift bed on the floor for about 48 hours as punishment for his hunger strike. After Wang was transferred to Shenyang No. 1 Prison in October 2010, he was reportedly beaten by other inmates acting on instructions from the prison police, and was put in solitary confinement later that month. Wang’s wife has been prevented from seeing her husband, subjected to surveillance, and warned not to discuss his health with anyone.
Mr. Yang Tongyan (杨同彦) – Tuberculosis, diabetes, nephritis, hepatitis, hypertension, arthritis
Date of Birth: April 12, 1961 (age 52)
Place of Detention: Nanjing Prison, Jiangsu Province
Yang Tongyan, also known by his pen name Yang Tianshui (杨天水), is a dissident writer and member of the Independent Chinese PEN Center. He has been serving a 12-year prison sentence for “subversion of state power” since 2006.
Yang suffers from a myriad of illnesses, including intestinal tuberculosis, tuberculosis peritonitis (in the abdomen lining), diabetes, nephritis (kidney inflammation or infection), high blood pressure, and arthritis. Yang’s family applied for medical parole in December 2012. Prison authorities rejected this request in early January 2013, saying that his chronic illnesses can be treated in prison. Yang was hospitalized the next month, however, and authorities still refused to release him. His family also reported that Nanjing Prison spends just 3 yuan per prisoner each month on medical expenses. Yang had previously been in critical condition in prison and was taken to a hospital in September 2009. On October 27, Yang’s sister visited him and said that he had become so thin that he was unrecognizable. His family applied for Yang’s release on medical parole, but the request was denied in 2010.
Mr. Zhu Yufu (朱虞夫) – Coronary heart disease, cerebral vascular sclerosis, lumbar disk herniation, hypertension, high cholesterol
Date of Birth: February 13, 1953 (age 61)
Place of Detention: Zhejiang Provincial No. 4 Prison, Hangzhou City, Zhejiang Province
Zhu Yufu, a veteran democracy activist, has been serving a seven-year sentence for “inciting subversion of state power” since 2012.
Zhu suffers from a number of conditions, some of which were brought about by torture or exacerbated by prison conditions. Authorities have rejected or ignored his family’s numerous requests for medical parole, including one from his wife Zhang Hangli (姜杭丽) shortly after he was arrested. Zhu discovered in the 1990s that he had vascular hypertrophy (thickening of vascular walls in the heart), arteriosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), and coronary heart disease. In March 2012, Zhu Yufu suffered a sudden onset of cerebral vascular sclerosis (narrowing of blood vessels in the brain) after prison guards tortured him. In November 2012, Zhu was only able to walk by leaning up against a wall for support. A coronary artery tumor, lumbar disc herniation, and hypertension—all exacerbated during previous incarcerations—continued to go untreated. He has become emaciated due to malnutrition.
Zhu’s wife had observed during a prison visit in April 2013 that his head was swollen, and Zhu stressed to her that he feared that he would not survive much longer in prison because of his declining health. She also reported his health declined in part due to deprivations and abuses that had occurred in retaliation for his family’s trip to the United States, during which they sought support for his release. In May 2013, he reportedly had several fainting spells due to physical weakness, and in December his wife made her fourth application for release on medical parole, which she sent to several different provincial government offices in addition to the prison. His wife has faced reprisals for demanding his release, and has been threatened by police not to discuss her husband’s health conditions. During a recent visit in January 2014, family members found that Zhu suffers from regular headaches and high blood pressure. Authorities reportedly told the family not to apply for medical parole again, as it would be “useless,” but they applied anyway. After they received the application, prison authorities gave Zhu an electrocardiogram and blood pressure test, then told the family that he didn’t meet the “conditions for medical parole.”
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