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Human rights in China

Scores of Chinese lawyers rally around colleague who claims he was tortured during crackdown

Pledges of support roll in to help rights lawyer Xie Yang sue nine secret police over the abuse he received following arrest in massive crackdown

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 21 January, 2017, 9:15pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 21 January, 2017, 9:47pm

Nearly 100 mainland lawyers have agreed to help a colleague sue nine “secret police” officers who he claims have tortured him during his detention on charges of subversion.

Rights lawyer Xie Yang was detained on July 11, 2015, in a hotel in Huaihua in Hunan province two days after authorities launched a nationwide crackdown that saw hundreds of rights lawyers and dissidents rounded up.

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He was held for six months under residential surveillance before being transferred and charges brought. His defence lawyers have been allowed to interview him and transcripts of those meetings were made public this week.

“I’m afraid I’ll die here. My wife and children, they don’t know,” Xie told his lawyers, according to the transcripts.

He claims agents subjected him to extended torture sessions that included physical assault, being forced to sit in suspended restraint chairs, having cigarette smoke continuously blown in his face, being deprived of sleep, water and medical care, and being threatened over his family members’ safety.

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Xie’s wife, Dr Chen Guiqiu, a professor of chemical engineering, started a campaign last week to recruit rights lawyers to help Xie sue the nine agents. She had garnered the support of 72 lawyers by yesterday, with numbers rising quickly. They plan to explore a variety of legal avenues to press prosecutors in Changsha to investigate the torture claims.

Liu Zhengqing, a lawyer representing Xie, said in a statement: “The mental and physical torture [Xie was subjected to] is beyond any person’s endurance, [and] so outrageous that my client attempted suicide on multiple occasions to seek relief.”

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Another of Xie’s lawyers, Chen Jiangang, said the legal help was needed because the case was a massive lawsuit involving multiple government authorities.

“It’s like the Cultural Revolution, with no rules to go by,” said Chen Jiangang. “This is a very dangerous case because there is utter political persecution ... targeting human rights lawyers.”

Another detained lawyer, Li Chunfu, who was freed on bail on January 12, has been diagnosed with schizophrenia after being held for more than 500 days.