EXTERNAL (for general distribution) AI Index: ASA 17/36/95
UA 132/95 Torture / Ill-treatment 9 June 1995
PEOPLE'S REPUBLIC OF CHINA Yu Zhijian
Li Wangyang, aged 36, worker
and other political prisoners at Hunan province No.1 Prison
In a letter smuggled out of Hunan No. 1 Prison on Chishan Island, Hunan Province,
a prisoner of conscience has told of the routine use of beatings and
ill-treatment in the prison, and of the likelihood of the "disastrous
consequences" that its publication may have for him.
In his letter, dated 23 May 1995, Yu Zhijian represents 54 political prisoners
imprisoned for their activities during the pro-democracy movement in 1989.
The letter takes the form of a petition to the National People's Congress (NPC),
and gives two examples of the beatings and ill-treatment that it alleges are
commonplace at Hunan No. 1 Prison:
- Li Wangyang, sentenced in 1990 to 13 years' imprisonment for "counter
revolutionary propaganda and incitement" was reportedly beaten up in late
January 1995 by a guard who took him to a small room and beat him so severely
that one of his teeth was knocked out.
- Zhang Jingsheng, a prisoner of conscience and veteran pro-democracy dissident
imprisoned in December 1989 for 13 years for "counter revolutionary propaganda
and incitement" had his mouth forcibly taped up in March 1995 by a guard for
teaching his cell mate to sing a prison song he had written.
The letter contains the names and case details of 12 political prisoners who
are all serving sentences ranging from 10 years to suspended death sentences.
Another 41 political prisoners asked Yu Zhijian to represent them in the petition
but were too fearful of reprisals to have their names published. Yu Zhijian
reiterates his belief that his actions in 1989 were peaceful expressions of
opinions and not "counter-revolutionary sabotage". The letter requests that
the NPC ensures that the new Prison Law (promulgated in December 1994) be
implemented so that "political prisoners no longer receive frequent beatings".
The letter also calls for an improvement in prison conditions and for a review
of the cases of 34 prisoners tried in the repressive climate tainted by the
4 June 1989 crackdown. It also calls for the early release of the political
prisoners, a number of whom are suffering from chronic Hepatitis B.
The Chinese authorities have responded to the letter by questioning its
authenticity. Amnesty International believes there is cause for action because
of the seriousness of the allegations in it, and in view of past reports of
the ill-treatment of prisoners in Hunan Province (see Torture in China, ASA
17/55/92, December 1992, pp 20-25).
Yu Zhijian was arrested with two others, Yu Dongyue and Lu Dechang, on 23 May
1989, exactly six years from the date of the letter. All three were charged
with "counter revolutionary sabotage" and "counter revolutionary propaganda
and incitement" for allegedly throwing paint at a portrait of Mao Zedong in