This article was first published on China Change web site on August 14, 2016
Following the news of Xie Yang’s case being sent to the prosecutors for possible indictment, details of Xie Yang’s torture were brought to light by lawyers who met with police at the end of July. In recent days, family and lawyers’ requests for meeting Xie Yang have been repeatedly denied. Xie was taken away by police on July 11, 2015, while he was on business trip in Huaihua, western Hunan Province. Later he was placed under “residential surveillance at a designated place,” China’s term for secret detention, for “disturbing courtroom order” and “inciting subversion of state power.” Xie Yang was among the lawyers arrested in July, 2015, as part of a nation-wide crackdown on human rights lawyers and activists. Show trials of four of the 24 lawyers and activists have been widely criticized. We provide translations of two statements: one by Xie Yang’s wife, and the other by his parents and other relatives (Chinese), as part of our continued effort to track development of the “709 crackdown.” — China Change’s Editors
Statement by Wife Chen Guiqiu: Xie Yang Has Been Tortured and Requests for Meetings Denied. What Are You Afraid of?
Xie Yang’s case has finally been sent to the prosecutors for indictment, lawyers can finally meet him and read the files, and I can finally learn about how Xie Yang incited the subversion of state power and how he disrupted courtroom order. From the day he was arrested to this day, none of us — the lawyers I appointed for him, Xie Yang’s lawyer friends, and myself — believed that Xie Yang could possibly have committed these two offenses.
On August 8, the lawyers and I went to the Changsha procuratorate to submit a power of attorney letter and a request to meet the client. We were told that the prosecutor in charge of the case was not there. We went again the next morning and handed in the papers. In the afternoon of August 9, we went to the detention center, certain that we would see Xie Yang. But we were told that we had to wait until 9 am the next day. We went in the morning of August 10, and the detention center said the prosecutors were interrogating Xie Yang and it would last the entire day. The third day (August 11) we went, we were told that he was still being interrogated. On the fourth day (August 12) we were again told that he was still being interrogated. It’s been more than 48 hours, and you’re still interrogating and preventing lawyers from meeting Xie Yang! You are violating the procedural law in your handling the case. How many more days are you going to thwart us with this pretext? Why are you keeping the lawyers from meeting Xie Yang?
Are you afraid of something? What are you afraid of? Are you afraid that Xie Yang will expose details of his torture?
In late July when the lawyers and I were summoned by the security police for a meeting at the Huazhilin Restaurant, we learned that the Public Security had arranged a meeting between lawyers and Xie Yang for the former to do “thought work” on Xie Yang [to confess to his wrongdoing]. Xie Yang told the lawyers that police had tortured him to extract confessions, and he had screamed for help. Given that I myself also received information about Xie Yang’s torture from a separate source, I am inclined to believe that he has indeed been subjected to torture. I also learned from the lawyers that, in the detention center, Xie Yang was locked up in the same cell as death row criminals, and one of them purposefully provoked Xie Yang with a burning cigarette, resulting in a fight. Xie Yang was badly beaten by the death row inmate, sustaining injuries to his head. We also learned that, one month after his arrest last year, the police’s surveillance video showed that Xie Yang had lost a lot of weight and his eyes were so swollen that he could barely open them. This is what you have done to him!
The police have repeatedly asked me to coax Xie Yang to confess, promising that if he does, he would be given a suspended sentence. But Xie Yang told the lawyers unequivocally: “I will not confess, because these two charges against me are spurious. I will never dismiss my own lawyers, and I want to meet with my lawyers according to normal procedure. I hope that more lawyers will take part in my case.”
You have done evil. To hide it, you want to silence the lawyers and the relatives. You continue to thwart meetings, prevent access to files, and threaten to dismiss them.
It’s clear why you are preventing lawyers from meeting Xie Yang: first of all, you want to continue to keep him incommunicado so you can continue to pressure him and force him to confess; secondly, you are afraid that your brutality will be exposed; and thirdly, following what they are doing to lawyers and activists detained in Tianjin, you are preparing for a secret trial.
Do you know that what you have done to Xie Yang has infuriated many people?
Chen Guiqiu, wife of Xie Yang.
Statement by Xie Yang’s Family on His Torture
Our beloved Xie Yang, a lawyer from Hunan, was one of the individuals arrested during the “709” crackdown. On July 11 at 5:40 a.m., he was taken away on suspicion of “inciting subversion of state power” and “disturbing public order,” and was placed under residential surveillance at a designated place. Later, he was locked up in the Changsha No. 2 Detention Center in Hunan.
A couple of days ago an individual familiar with the situation revealed that last August, Xie Yang was subject to torture at the location he was being held in — he had yelled out of the window for help while the police weren’t watching, and was then beaten unconscious, before being sent to the 163 Hospital for emergency rescue. This July at the Changsha No. 2 Detention Center, the authorities purposefully arranged death row criminals to move into his prison cell. He was first provoked, and then savagely bashed with the iron manacles of the death row prisoners, leading him to suffer severe bodily harm. If the above is investigated and ascertained to be true — that the Changsha No. 2 Detention Center abused its power by subjecting a detainee to illegal violence — then, as family members, we express our extreme shock and fury. We strongly censure the relevant authorities and urge that they cease the violation of human rights of Xie Yang, investigate those guilty of abuse and the public officials who bear responsibility for it, and together safeguard the reputation of China as a great country subject to the rule of law.
Lawyers are the workers of the laws of a society, and they lay the foundation of modern civilization. According to the regulations in China’s Lawyer’s Law, the duty of a lawyer is to defend the legal rights of his clients, ensure the correct implementation of the law, and safeguard fairness and righteousness in society. As family members of Xie Yang, we have always considered him to be a hero, and we are proud of him and the sacredness of his profession. For years Xie Yang has been a pillar of spiritual support for his parents — he’s the backbone of our whole family. Among his siblings, Xie Yang has been the one who called his aging parents the most, checking how they were doing and letting them know that he was all right. He belongs to a big family of six married siblings, but he is close to everyone and maintains regular contact with each of them because of his warm-hearted nature. Whenever his parents visit him in the city, he always receives them happily. After disaster befell him, no one in the family has been at peace.
Xie Yang is a person with a strong sense of righteousness. Whenever his brothers or sisters find themselves in difficulty, he does everything to help them out, seldom refusing, and so has an excellent reputation back home. He treats his friends and colleagues honestly, he’s generous, and he fights for what’s right. We believe that Xie Yang has never once had the unlawful motive of “inciting subversion of state power.” He has simply exhibited uncommon courage and bravery in the face of abuses of public power and violations of the law.
Firstly, in the various public incidents that he was involved, the portion of illegal or suspected-to-be-illegal activities of public officials cannot be equated with the government, and even less be equated with “state power.” Punishing and lodging complaints against these individuals, within the scope of the law, does not undermine the foundation of the regime — instead it does the opposite, restraining the illegal use of state power and ensuring the right of supervision conferred upon citizens by the constitution. It also assists to drive forward the progress of the rule of law in China, and is beneficial to China’s transformation to rule of law. On the other hand, not respecting the right of the citizenry to supervise officials creates a breeding ground for a corrupt bureaucracy, bringing no benefits but myriad harms to the state and the people.
Secondly, Xie Yang was born and raised in the countryside and later established himself modestly in Changsha. He didn’t come from power or wealth and has no political capital. To put it plainly, he’s simply a commoner. Saying that someone like him is “inciting subversion” is like “accusing a mantis of trying to stop a chariot.” Those who really have the power to oppose the Party, those who lust for power, are the likes of Bo Xilai. It’s not us humble commoners without authority or power. If the relevant organs insist on fixing the crime of “inciting subversion” on Xie Yang, it will really be an unbelievable charge. It will also leave behind an inglorious page in the history of China’s path to becoming a great country ruled by law!
In sum, we hope that the relevant departments will conscientiously carry out their duties, respect the objective facts, not take a predetermined stance, not make up “the true circumstances,” and truly ensure that the basic rights of citizens are not violated. Our entire family is awaiting the arrival of justice.