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Dissident Zhao Changqing Abused in Prison

February 8, 2006 Rights in China (HRIC) has learned that veteran dissident Zhao Changqing has been repeatedly subjected to abusive treatment in prison, including solitary confinement, most recently because he objected to singing the political anthem, "Socialism is Good."

Sources in China told HRIC that Zhao, sentenced in August 2003 to five years in prison, has been repeatedly beaten and sent into lengthy periods of solitary confinement during his incarceration in Shaanxi Province’s Weinan Prison. He was most recently released from 40 days of solitary confinement imposed on him when he refused to sing "Socialism is Good" and other songs praising the Chinese Communist Party and the socialist system during a flag-raising ceremony at the prison.

On another occasion, Zhao is reported to have been beaten by other inmates after he engaged in conversation with another prisoner who was a Falun Gong practitioner. HRIC’s sources say that although Zhao was injured and had his eyeglasses broken as a result of the beating, he was still sent into solitary confinement afterward.

Zhao Changqing was a student of history at Shaanxi Normal University when he took part in the democracy movement in the spring of 1989. As a result of his participation, he was imprisoned in Qincheng Prison for more than four months. In 1997, Zhao ran for election as a People’s Congress representative for Shaanxi’s Nanzheng County, but after he accused the local government of violating election laws, he was arrested on charges of endangering state security and sentenced for three years in prison. Following his release in March 2001, Zhang lost his job as a middle school teacher but continued to promote human rights and democratic reform.

Zhao was detained again in November 2002 as one of 192 opposition activists who signed an open letter to China’s 16th Party Congress calling for political reform. He was formally arrested on December 27, 2002 on charges of incitement to subvert state power. Following a secret trial on July 10, 2003, the Xi’an Intermediate People’s Court sentenced Zhao to five years in prison on August 4.

As recognized under international human rights standards, prolonged periods of solitary confinement facilitate torture and ill treatment, and long terms of confinement can in themselves constitute torture. Zhao Changqing was imprisoned for nothing more than the peaceful expression of his political views, and his ill-treatment in custody only exacerbates the injustice of his case. HRIC urges the Chinese authorities, including prison officials, to take immediate steps to effectively address Zhao Changqing’s detention conditions and ill treatment.

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