Zhang Qing | China Change
This article was first published in Chinachange.org on May 19, 2016
To President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang:
My name is Zhang Qing. My husband Guo Feixiong (also known by his original name, Yang Maodong) has been framed by the authorities for protesting in support of the employees at Southern Weekly, for calling for freedom of speech and ratification of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and for demanding that officials disclose their assets.
Having been wrongfully convicted of “gathering a crowd to disrupt order in a public place” and “provoking a serious disturbance,” Guo Feixiong was sentenced to six years’ imprisonment in Guangdong’s Yangchun Prison. There, his health has seriously deteriorated.
However, not only has he been denied treatment; in fact the domestic security police and prison authorities in Guangdong have taken steps to persecute him in new ways. For this reason, on May 9 Guo Feixiong launched a hunger strike in protest.
At 10 a.m. on May 9, Maoping received a telephone call from Officer Liu at Yangchun Prison. He said: “I heard you’re coming. What time will you be here?” Maoping replied that she’d arrive on Friday. Officer Liu suggested that she come earlier. So, Maoping set off for Guangdong on May 10. That evening, she arrived in Guangzhou. No sooner had her train reached the station when she got a telephone call from Officer Luo, who asked to speak with her in person.
Subsequently she met with several people, including Officer Luo of the provincial domestic security division and the Chief of the Guangdong Prison Administrative Bureau. They wanted Maoping to urge Feixiong to end his hunger strike and warned her not to make public anything that Guo Feixiong said to her. They threatened that if she revealed anything, they wouldn’t let her or any lawyers meet with Guo Feixiong and they would place him in solitary confinement.
[Editors’ Note: Zhang Qing granted China Change permission to reveal details of this meeting. Li Jingyan, the chief of the Guangdong Prisoner Administrative Bureau, can be reached via “Chief’s Mailbox” at [email protected]]
On May 11, Yang Maoping met with Guo Feixiong at Yangchun Prison. He told her that on May 9 the prison had acted against his wishes and forcibly given him a rectal examination, which they recorded and threatened to publish online. That same day, they forcibly shaved his head. He began a hunger strike in protest. He said that people would need to shed blood and sacrifice themselves for democracy and constitutional government in China. He said: “If I’m not willing to make these sacrifices, who will?” Yang Maoping said that Guo Feixiong was physically weak and drenched in sweat from his hunger strike. The prison authorities asked Yang Maoping to visit with Guo Feixiong again that afternoon and urge him to give up his hunger strike. She said: “He’s not strong enough for that, so I’m not coming in the afternoon to try to persuade him.”
On May 12, Maoping went to see Guo Feixiong again and urged him, unsuccessfully, to call off his hunger strike. He declined. The next day, Maoping left the prison.
Guo Feixiong has made abolition of punishment by electric shock one of the demands of his hunger strike because the authorities at Yangchun Prison use such punishments against “disobedient” inmates. The prison has probably deliberately let Guo Feixiong see these kinds of punishments as a way of threatening him.
No one has the right to persecute Guo Feixiong to death, and the perpetrators of these evils must be stopped. These evil deeds have gone way beyond what ordinary people could possibly imagine, past the basic standards of human decency, and across the line of what human beings can endure. The evil deeds that are being deliberately planned and carried out by the domestic security and prison authorities in Guangdong are the direct cause of Guo Feixiong’s hunger strike protest and have destroyed him mentally and physically, posing even greater danger to his life.
President Xi and Premier Li: the brazenly unlawful behavior of the domestic security and prison authorities in Guangdong makes a mockery of the Chinese authorities’ claim to “govern the country according to the law.” I hope you will look into Guo Feixiong’s case, hold the perpetrators legally accountable for their wrongdoing, and order the relevant departments to provide Guo Feixiong with effective medical treatment.
At the same time, I call on the international community, human rights organizations, and righteous media organizations to pay attention to the grave danger facing Guo Feixiong and demand that the relevant Chinese authorities end their brutal political persecution of Guo Feixiong, who must be acquitted and released!
Guo Feixiong’s indefinite hunger strike in prison is in response to the deliberately degrading way he has been treated by the authorities. Two days after Office Luo met with Yang Maoping and specifically asked whether Guo Feixiong cared a great deal about his personal privacy, prison authorities deliberately took advantage of the fact that Maoping hadn’t yet arrived at the prison and forcibly carried out a rectal examination on Guo Feixiong, which they recorded and then threatened to post online.
Guo Feixiong’s hunger-strike demands are as follows:
For President Xi Jinping to launch political reforms;
For the government to abolish all punishment by electric shock;
For the government to improve the treatment of all political prisoners in its prisons; and
For the government to ratify the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
At 6 a.m. on May 9, Guo Feixiong announced that he was beginning an indefinite hunger strike. The reason was because domestic security and prison authorities in Guangdong had taken advantage of his need for medical treatment to secretly retaliate against him. Without his family present, Yangchun Prison forced a weakened Guo Feixiong to undergo a rectal examination, which they videotaped and threatened to post online. Afterwards, the prison forcibly shaved Guo Feixiong’s head and verbally threatened him, ordering him to squat down with hands clasped behind his head “like an insect” whenever an officer was present. Guo Feixiong has now been on hunger strike for 11 days, and under the pressure of his poor health and these new persecutions, he is now on the brink of death.
Here is what has happened most recently:
On April 26, Guo Feixiong’s sister Yang Maoping went to visit him. She learned that for the past year Guo has been intermittently suffering from bloody bowel movements and bloody diarrhea. Since arriving at the prison, he has also suffered intermittently from bleeding in his throat and mouth. He was sent to the prison hospital on April 7, and on April 19 he bled so heavily he was unable to walk steadily. During his meeting with the prison’s political counsellor, Officer Liu, Guo Feixiong was practically unable to stand. At the hospital, he has been held for all but one hour a day in a windowless room with four other people. When he asked to be given the necessary physical examinations, Officer Liu refused to give his permission, saying: “When you collapse, we’ll send you to the hospital for emergency treatment.”
On May 6, Guo was permitted to meet with his lawyer for only two minutes before the meeting was cut short.
On May 7, Officer Luo of the Guangdong Domestic Security Division went to see Yang Maoping at her work. Officer Luo said that Guo Feixiong was being sent to the hospital for examination. Luo asked whether Guo Feixiong cared a lot about his personal privacy. Yang Maoping said that he cared a great deal about his right to privacy and requested that a family member be present as he underwent an endoscopy. They agreed to her request, and Maoping made plans to go to visit Guo Feixiong at Yangchun Prison on Friday, May 13.