EXTERNAL (for general distribution) AI Index: ASA 17/38/94
UA 435/94 Ill-treatment / Fear for Safety 7 December 1994
PEOPLE'S REPUBLIC OF CHINAChen Pokong (30) and other prisoners at Guangzhou
No. 1 Reeducation-Through-Labour Center
Chen Pokong, a pro-democracy activist detained in a labour camp in Guangdong
Province, has alleged, in a letter of appeal to the international community,
that prisoners in the labour camp are often beaten and subjected to conditions
which amount to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. The letter, which is
said to have been smuggled out of the camp a few months ago, was publicised
It is feared that the ill-treatment of prisoners described in the letter may
be continuing in the labour camp and that Chen Pokong may be punished and
subjected to further ill-treatment for smuggling out the letter.
Chen Pokong, who had been previously imprisoned for his pro-democracy
activities, was sentenced in October 1993, without trial, to two years of
"reeducation through labour" for "illegally crossing state borders". He was
sent to carry out the sentence at the Guangzhou No 1 Reeducation-Through-Labour
Center, a forced-labour camp in Hua county, Guangdong province.
According to his letter, "production quotas" in the labour camp are set so
high that prisoners have to work over 14 hours a day, seven days a week, with
only three days holiday a year during the annual Spring Festival. During the
day, they carry out heavy labour in a stone quarry, transporting and loading
stones into boats; at night, they make artificial flowers which are sold for
export. Prisoners who do not meet their production quotas are liable to have
their sentence lengthened, Chen Pokong says.
"Inmates who labour slightly slower are brutally beaten and misused by
supervisors and team leaders (themselves inmates). Inmates are often beaten
until they are blood-stained all over, collapse or lose consciousness (shortly
before I was sent here, one inmate was beaten to death.)...Several times I
was beaten by the team leader. I am constantly exposed to terror", Chen Pokong
He describes injured and sick prisoners being forced to work despite their
illnesses. "Many inmates, including myself, their hands and feet squashed by
big stones, stained with blood and pus, have to labour as usual. As a consequence,
many inmates were crippled for life." He also describes harsh living conditions,
with prisoners being given insufficient food, mainly consisting of coarse rice
and rotten vegetables, and medical treatment being practically non-existent.
Chen Pokong concludes his letter by saying, "I understand that once my letter
is published, I might be persecuted even more harshly. I might even be killed.
But I have no choice!"
Chen Pokong, also known as Chen Jingsong, was a teacher in the economics
department of Zhongshan University, in Guangzhou city, when the 1989
pro-democracy protests started in China. He was arrested in August 1989 for
his activities during the protests and charged in February 1990 with "carrying
out counter-revolutionary propaganda and incitement". On 1 March 1991, he was