On January 18, Hu Jintao will visit the United States, where, among other topics, the two governments will discuss human rights issues. Because of China’s continuous acts of “enforced disappearance,” “torture,” and other acts against dissidents, China’s many rights defense lawyers jointly issue this open letter, entitled “The State’s Respect for and Protection of Human Rights Begins with the Strict Prohibition of Torture.”
According to recent reports, prominent Chinese human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng once again suffered brutal acts of torture while he was missing. After the first time that he was disappeared for 14 months, he was again disappeared for more than eight months. We also learned that on December 9, 2010, Dr. Fan Yafeng, the former Chinese Academy of Social Sciences associate researcher, was taken to a secret location in a black hood and tortured while under the control of the police.
From this, we think of the startling words of some police officers: “If you fall into our hands, you can neither beg to live nor die,” and “Don’t waste time talking to him; just beat him to death, dig a hole and bury him.” According to reports, the police stripped Gao naked and then took turns beating him with a pistol in a holster. The most savage beating lasted two days and nights. When the police officers tired of beating him, they used plastic bags to tie his hands and feet and threw him to the floor. Once they finished resting, they continued to beat him. When he was kidnapped previously, secret police tortured him by applying electric shocks to, and using bamboo sticks to stab, his genitalia. The police said to Gao: “You have to forget you are a person, you’re just livestock.”
We understand that, in addition to the widespread torture inside detention centers, labor camps, and other detention facilities, there are also many cases of torture of political prisoners and prisoners of conscience, including Li Hong, Guo Feixiong, Chen Guangcheng, Yan Zhengxue, Huang Qi, Liao Yiwu, Yu Dongyue, Lu Decheng, Yu Zhijian, He Depu, Yang Chunlin, Yuan Xianchen, Yao Fuxin, Xie Fulin, Ni Yulan, and others. One should be particularly aware that in cases outside of criminal proceedings, there is an increasing trend of torture of political prisoners, prisoners of conscience, human rights activists, and petitioners. Li Heping, Teng Biao, Ai Weiwei, Chen Yunfei, Hua Ze, Li Fangping, Liu Shasha, Liu Dejun, Zhang Kai, Li Chunfu, Dong Qianyong, Liu Shihui, Zhou Li, and others all had the experience of being kidnapped or beaten by the secret police or people directed by the government.
In 1988, the Chinese government ratified the United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. Chinese law also strictly prohibits confessions extracted by torture. Petitioning, rights defense, political dissent, or religion can never be an excuse or pretext for torture. Torture is a crime against humanity and violates the most fundamental human dignity. Torture in the government’s name falls below the lowest boundary of political civility.
To this end, we denounce and condemn any acts of torture, and at the same time, we call for the respect and protection of human rights, starting with the strict prohibition of torture. Only by strictly abiding by China’s constitution and laws and abiding by the obligations of international human rights treaties into which China has entered can China become a responsible nation. Only by guaranteeing that citizens will not have to fear torture can we truly build a modern society of equality, justice, democracy, and rule of law.
Li Subin, Teng Biao, Jiang Tianyong, Ni Yulan,
Tang Jitian, Wen Haibo, Liu Wei, Tong Chaoping,
Li Heping, Wu Hongwei, Zhang Chengmao, Li Xiongbing,
Jin Guanghong, Wang Quanzhang, Li Fangping, Zhang Kai,
Peng Jian, Liang Xiaojun, Wang Yajun