Human Rights in China has learned from reliable sources that after Liu Xiaobo died in custody, the mother of Huang Qi (黄琦), the detained founder of 64 Tianwang Human Rights Center, became especially concerned that her seriously ill son may also die in detention. Huang was detained in November 2016 and officially arrested in December on suspicion of “illegally providing state secrets abroad,” a charge based upon information he posted on the 64 Tianwang website from a Mianyang municipal government department document setting out next steps to crackdown on Huang Qi and a petitioner, Chen Tianmao (陈天茂). Sichuan authorities have threatened Huang Qi’s mother, Pu Wenqing (蒲文清), many times. They also told petitioners advocating for Huang Qi not to count on seeing Huang Qi leave prison alive. On July 11, she also issued a video statement requesting that the government release Huang Qi on humanitarian grounds.
Huang Qi is a veteran rights defender active online in China to promote information access by citizens and official accountability, including founding the Tianwang Missing Persons (天网寻人) website to help people find missing relatives, and the 64 Tianwang website (http://www.64tianwang.com) to provide rights defense related information and assistance to vulnerable groups. Following the Sichuan earthquake, he published an investigative report exposing the “tofu” school buildings that collapsed during the earthquake, which killed thousands. He has previously been imprisoned twice, serving eight years in total. As a result of beatings and other abuses he suffered during his previous imprisonment, Huang Qi developed accumulation of fluid in the brain, rheumatic heart disease, and other ailments. In 2010, Huang Qi was also diagnosed with chronic renal failure and other conditions, requiring large quantities of medication daily.