Liu Xiaobo

Yu Jie describes brush with death

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

Dissident Christian writer Yu Jie who has fled to the United States with his family, yesterday accused Beijing police of torturing him to the brink of death over a year ago and vowed he would not return before dramatic political change took place in his country.

In a statement, Yu (pictured) gave a graphic account of being placed under strict house arrest and living under humiliating conditions for most of last year during a sweeping crackdown on dissent - something he was unable to write about until he left the country last Wednesday.

'After the announcement that my best friend Liu Xiaobo won the Nobel Peace Prize on October 8, 2010, I lost my basic freedoms. Illegal house arrests, torture, surveillance, being followed ... those became part of my everyday life,' he said.

'I had no choice but to leave China, to make a complete break from the fascist, barbaric and brutal regime of the Communist Party.'

Beijing police did not respond to a request for comment yesterday.

Yu said he was immediately placed under house arrest for two months on his return to China from a visit to the US in October 2010. On the eve of the Nobel award ceremony for Liu on December 9 that year, Yu said police placed his head in a black hood and drove him to an unknown location.

There, he was kicked, stripped naked, beaten and tortured for hours until he passed out, he said. He was slapped on his cheeks and forced to slap himself. Police trod on his chest, bent his fingers backwards as punishment for 'writing essays that attack the Communist Party' and lit cigarettes painfully close to his face, he said.

The head state security officer overseeing Yu said he was being punished for his literary collaboration with Liu over the past decade, for his Hong Kong-published book China's Best Actor: Wen Jiabao - in which he accused the premier of hypocrisy over democratic values - and for writing Liu's biography. The officer told Yu he would go to jail if he published Liu's biography.

Following hours of torture, Yu said he passed out and was taken to a local hospital outside Beijing, where doctors said his condition was too serious to be treated there and had him transferred to a better-equipped hospital in the city.

Yu said he survived only after several hours of emergency treatment at the Beijing Hospital, where he was forced to write a statement promising not to talk to journalists and diplomats before being taken home on December 13.

For most of last year, Yu was barred from publishing essays, was placed under house arrest during sensitive anniversaries and prevented from worshipping at an underground church where he was a leading member, he said.

'When my personal safety could not be guaranteed ... I was forced to decide to leave China,' he said.

Yu, 38, who left with his wife and three-year-old son, said he would continue to write in the US and planned to publish the biography of Liu this year as well as writing a book critical of President Hu Jintao .