Sources in China have informed Human Rights in China (HRIC) that anti-corruption writer Lü Gengsong (吕耿松) and democracy activist He Depu (何德普) are suffering from deteriorating health and inadequate medical treatment in prison. Their families have issued open letters urging the authorities to take immediate action and to grant their releases. (These open letters are attached to the Chinese version of this case update.) “A country’s level of development must be measured not only by highly visible infrastructure achievements,” said Human Rights in China Executive Director Sharon Hom. “In the lead-up to the Olympics, the Chinese authorities must also demonstrate respect for the rights of prisoners, like Lü Gengsong and He Depu, imprisoned for the peaceful exercise of their right to freedom of expression. After all, respect for human dignity is a fundamental value of the Olympics Movement.” Under Chinese criminal law and the Detention Center Regulations, a seriously ill detainee should have access to adequate health care and may be released on medical parole from prison or through a personal guarantor pending appeal.
The National People’s Congress (NPC) and the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) began their annual sessions this week on March 5, and March 3, respectively. Many Chinese citizens use this opportunity to appeal to the highest law-making and advisory bodies for redress.
On March 2, Lü Gengsong’s wife, Wang Xue’e (汪雪娥), sent an open letter to the NPC seeking immediate, urgent medical care for her husband and asking for release under a guarantor. The letter describes the authorities’ refusal to accept clothing and medicine from the family for Lü, restrictions on his use of the toilet, and imposition of isolated confinement. Wang urges the NPC and its Chairman, Wu Bangguo (吴邦国), to grant Lü early release.
He Depu's wife, Jia Jianying (贾建英), recently issued two letters, one to the warden at the prison where He is detained, and another to the NPC and CPPCC. Jia's letter to the prison warden address He's worsening medical situation, pleading that He be released for medical care if the prison hospital is unable to treat him. Jia's letter to the NPC and CPPCC proposes general measures to improve prison conditions and treatment of prisoners, including raising the quality of medical equipment and technology, ensuring outside exercise time, and ensuring adequate food and nutrition.
Lü Gengsong was tried on January 22, 2008, on charges of “inciting subversion of state power.” On February 5, he was sentenced to four years in prison and one year of deprivation of his political rights. Lü taught at a special training school for public security officers, but was dismissed in 1993 because of his activities in support of democratic reform in China. In recent years he has been supporting himself as a freelance writer. He published a book, Corruption in the Communist Party of China, in 2000, as well as a number of articles on corruption, organized crime, and related topics. He has also been involved in rights defense activities such as reporting on the sentencing of Hangzhou evictions protester Yang Yunbiao (杨云彪).
He Depu (b. 1956) is a veteran dissident who participated in the Democracy Wall Movement in 1979, the democracy movement in 1989, and the signature campaign for Wang Dan from 1993 to 1995. He also established a magazine, Beijing Youth, and in 1998 helped form the banned China Democracy Party (CDP). He Depu was detained on November 4, 2002, after joining an open letter to the 16th Party Congress signed by 192 dissidents calling for political reform. He was formally arrested on January 31, 2003, on suspicion of "inciting subversion of state power," and on November 6, 2003, the Beijing Municipal Intermediate People's Court sentenced him to eight years in prison and two years' subsequent deprivation of political rights. He has repeatedly suffered abuse while in detention, and also suffers from high blood pressure and ear problems. In September 2007, HRIC learned that prison authorities had threatened to deprive He of family visits after his wife, Jia Jianying, revealed that he had been denied outdoor exercise for nearly half a year and her account of this and other poor prison conditions were reported in overseas media.
For more information on Lü Gengsong, see:
- "Writer Lü Gengsong’s Trial Held Today," January 22, 2008, http://www.hrichina.org/public/contents/47186;
- "Writer Lü Gengsong Indicted," January 11, 2008, http://www.hrichina.org/public/contents/46847;
- "HRIC Case Update: Lü Gengsong’s Case Transferred to Procuratorate," November 29, 2007, http://www.hrichina.org/public/contents/45741;
- "HRIC Statement: HRIC Protests Detention of Writer Lü Gengsong," August 27, 2007, http://www.hrichina.org/public/contents/44709.
- "He Depu Threatened with Deprivation of Family Visits Over Disclosure of Prison Conditions," September 27, 2007, http://www.hrichina.org/public/contents/45104.