Tortured human rights activist released after four years


(Chengdu, Sichuan—April 24, 2019) A Sichuanese activist was released on March 25 after being transferred to three different prisons and tortured during his incarceration.

The release of the activist, Chen Yunfei, from Ya’an Prison was announced on April 17. Police in Chengdu, Sichuan, sent him back to his mother’s home. His family did not know where he was imprisoned, so they could not go to the prison to meet him upon once he received his freedom. So far, the only restriction the government has imposed on him has been forbidding him from visiting Beijing or traveling abroad.

Chen underwent multiple counts of torture during his four-year sentence. He recalled that at the Xinjin County Detention Center, the center’s director, Zhang Lin, conducted inspections, during which all of the detainees must stand at attention and shout, “Hello, Leader!” Humiliated, Chen refused to comply.

Another time, the associate director forbade the prisoners from performing taichi, a form of meditative martial art commonly practiced in China, but Chen practiced anyway, and he ended up suffering two types of torture, known, respectively, as “chicken pecks rice” and “dragon embraces a pole.”

When “chicken pecks rice” is employed, the prison personnel shackle the inmate’s hands and feet together, causing severe pain. “Dragon embraces a pole” binds both the person’s hands and feet, making them fold “like a shrimp,” according to a recent report received by ChinaAid. The person cannot eat or use the bathroom without the assistance of others, and, if it is employed for more than a week, the individual could suffer difficulty straightening themselves and may become disabled.

Chen was tortured for 14 days.

On March 25, 2015, Chen was among the more than 20 residents of Chengdu who went to clean the burial places of Xiao Jie and Wu Guofeng, who died in the 1989 Tiananmen Square Massacre. On their way back, more than 100 SWAT agents intercepted them. The next day, Chen was placed under criminal detention on charges of inciting subversion of state power and provoking troubles, but the local procuratorate later dropped the subversion charge. Initially, he was held at the Xinjin County Detention Center.

Authorities transferred Chen three times. First, he was sent to Qiongxia Prison on July 4, 2017, where he was forced to work. Even though the labor was immense, he would be punished by being forced to stand. When he didn’t comply, he was beaten by another prisoner.

Two months later, he arrived at Meizhou Prison, which has a tight surveillance system. There, he was locked up alone in a dark room and prohibited from walking outside, reading books, and contacting others. The officers at this prison also beat him, and it took him more than 40 days to recover.

On Sept. 21, 2018, officials secretly sent him to Ya’an Prison. While he was imprisoned there, he reported the mistreatment he had experienced at the hands of another prisoner, and the prison officers struck him, and one employed tools usually used in torture to strike him. He sued the prison for violating the law.

Chen said that he had tried to appeal his case, but the prison prevented him from writing the appeal. He insisted that appealing is a right the citizen should have and thoroughly maintained his innocence.

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