Liu Xiaobo

Activist missing after escaping from 'black jail'

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 19 July, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 19 July, 2012, 12:00am

A blind mainland activist denied entry to Hong Kong for the July 1 rally is missing after fleeing a 'black jail' in Hebei province on Tuesday morning, a Hong Kong-based rights organisation says.

Relatives of Li Guizhi, 57, who had been petitioning authorities for answers about the suspicious death of her son in 2006, said they feared for her safety.

The People's Rights Union of China, which organised her trip to Hong Kong, said that if Li was indeed in danger, it would release information it possessed proving her son was killed by public security officers.

Liu Weiping, the group's chairman, said that if the information was disclosed, 'a lot of public security officers from department to bureau levels would be in trouble'.

Li went to Shenzhen in late June in hopes of taking part in the annual rally in Hong Kong and organising a press conference about her son's case. But she was denied permission to cross the border, Liu said.

Li fled to Panyu district in Guangzhou but security personnel found and detained her on July 1. She was taken to Hebei, her home province, and sent to a black jail, Liu said. The mother had spent time in illegal detention centres previously and had been tortured.

Li, who suffers from asthma, called Liu to say she felt physically unwell after receiving medical treatment inside the facility. Liu urged her to refuse further treatment. 'In the last few days, she had almost collapsed psychologically,' he said.

Li escaped the detention centre on Tuesday after two guards either felt asleep or got drunk, Liu said. She contacted her daughter briefly and that was the last time the family heard from her.

Li had been complaining about the official investigation into the death of her son Ren Haifeng, a public security officer who quit the force after learning his colleagues were reportedly involved in drug trafficking. Liu said Ren was killed because officers feared he would disclose their secret.

Authorities told Li her son had died in a car accident, although no evidence was given to the family. The mother refused to accept the official explanation, and began to petition various levels of government.

Liu showed a video clip of Li taken in June, in which she talks tearfully about the treatment inside the detention centres. 'They do not treat us as human beings. Many people were driven crazy and beaten in the detention centres,' she said.

All 57 mainland activists who took part in the July 1 protest in Hong Kong were safe, Liu said, except for Song Ningsheng and Zeng Jiuzi, who had lodged a petition after returning to Beijing. They were serving 10 days of 'administrative detention'.

Liu said millions of activists who petitioned Beijing - a legitimate way of lodging complaints - were detained in black jails as a deterrent or a form of revenge.

He said his organisation would continue to fight for the rights of those who were held inside the facilities.

'We are not causing any chaos to the nation or Communist Party. We are helping the country to stop all this unrest,' he said.