Radio Free Asia: Chinese Activist May Have Moved Jail, Ceased Hunger Strike: Wife

Radio Free Asia

■ Chinese political prisoner Guo Feixiong, who has refused food and water for more than 100 days in protest at his treatment in jail, may have had his request for a transfer granted, his wife told RFA on Monday.

Guo, whose birth name is Yang Maodong, had been subjected to forced feeding after beginning his hunger strike in early May in protest at the treatment of political prisoners in China.

His lawyers had requested his transfer from Yangchun Prison in the southern province of Guangdong after a public outcry triggered by his hunger strike.

“I have heard that [Guo has left Yangchun Prison] but we haven’t had this information confirmed yet,” Guo’s U.S.-based wife Zhang Qing said. “Some of the family are planning to visit him on Aug. 26, so we probably won’t hear anything for a while.”

Guangdong rights activist Guo Feixiong in an undated photo.
Photo courtesy of activists

“Our information is incomplete right now,” said Zhang, who was granted political asylum in the United States in November 2009 along with the couple’s daughter Yang Tianjiao.

According to rights activist Ai Wu, who heads the Guo Feixiong Concern Group, the initial report of Guo’s departure from Yangchun came in the form of a phone call from Guangdong authorities to his sister, Yang Maoping.

“The Guangdong provincial prison bureau sent out a tweet on Friday, which was followed by a private phone call to Guo’s elder sister, saying that he had been transferred to another prison,” Ai said.

“If this is true, I will be very happy about it, because nobody wants anything bad to happen to him.”

But Ai said it is still unclear whether Guo’s other demands of better treatment for political prisoners have been met, and therefore whether or not he has willingly ended his hunger strike.

“It is a small concession for them to fulfill his request for a transfer, but the government has yet to respond to his demands regarding the bigger, humanitarian issues that he made on arrival at Yangchun Prison,” she said.

Call for reforms, end to torture

Guo began his hunger strike on May 9, calling on President Xi Jinping to implement democratic reforms, end the use of electric shocks in prison, improve the treatment of political prisoners, and ratify a United Nations covenant on civil and political rights.

His action was prompted by a forced rectal cavity search at the instigation of state security police, as well as forced head shaving and verbal abuse from prison guards, his sister said at the time.

More than 400 rights activists have been on relay hunger strikes in support of Guo since he began refusing food and water.

Ai said Guo had also spoken out against a lack of nutritious food in jail, against being beaten and “forced to kneel,” and on “forced exercise sessions.”

“But Guo Feixiong has been forced to squat down with his hands on his head more than three times, and threatened with an electric baton, and these are very serious forms of physical and emotional abuse,” Ai said.

“If he has really been transferred to another jail, then I hope that similar things won’t continue to happen at the new prison,” she said.

According to the New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW), Yangchun Prison twice admitted guo to hospital between April and May, but only for checkups. No diagnosis or medical treatments were offered.

Guo was sentenced last November for “picking quarrels and stirring up trouble” and “gathering a crowd to disrupt social order” after a prolonged period in pretrial detention.

During his sentencing hearing, Guo shouted in protest at his treatment while in police custody, where he was held in solitary confinement in a small, dark cell and denied permission to exercise outdoors since August 2013.

Reported by Yang Fan for RFA’s Mandarin Service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.

China Aid Media Team
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