Human rights in China

The video Chinese police released to dispel claims of rights activist’s torture

But detainee’s wife and lawyer suspect footage masks ongoing abuse

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 18 May, 2017, 4:06pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 18 May, 2017, 11:14pm

Police in central China have released a video of a detained former human rights lawyer to try to quell claims that he was being tortured in custody.

But the authorities continued to ignore his lawyer’s requests to see him.

Police in Changsha, Hunan province, released the footage of prominent rights campaigner Jiang Tianyong on their social media account on Thursday.

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The clip purportedly showed Jiang in good health, walking along a corridor while detained at an unspecified residence.

The post came after claims surfaced online that the activist had been tortured until his legs had swollen so much that he could no longer walk or stand.

The video was taken on Wednesday afternoon, the post said, adding that police had arranged for a doctor to treat Jiang for a pre-existing leg injury, which had since healed.

But Jiang’s lawyer, Qin Chenshou, said he continued to suspect that his client had been abused.

“If he was not being tortured, [the authorities] should let us see him,” Qin said. “But we have received no response to six or seven applications.”

Jiang’s wife, Jin Bianling, said her husband might have been forced to appear in the video, saying he was taking small steps “without showing any expression”.

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“[The video] showed Jiang Tianyong had been abused by them as his two calves sported purple and black bruises,” Jin said.

Jiang was missing for about a month late last year before police confirmed he had been detained in the city after leaving Beijing to visit a friend. Police said Jiang used other people’s identity cards to buy more than 20 train tickets.

Chinese media later reported that Jiang was suspected of illegal possession of confidential state documents; colluding with overseas institutions, organisations and individuals; and illegally sending state secrets abroad.

Jiang was a lawyer before he was disbarred in 2009, but continued his human rights activism, leading to a spell in custody and beatings at the hands of police.

Meanwhile, the authorities have not released information about the welfare of another rights lawyer, Wang Quanzhang. Wang was among those detained in a massive crackdown on human rights campaigners across the country in July 2015.