China
05.11.18
Urgent Interventions

Immediately and Unconditionally Release Huang Qi & Ensure Access to Prompt Medical Care for all Detained Human Rights Defenders

Chinese authorities mustimmediately and unconditionally release citizen journalist and human rights activistHuang Qi, a group of 14 NGOs said on November 5, 2018.

Huang Qi (黄琦), the founder anddirector of 64 Tianwang Human Rights Center, is not receiving adequate medicalcare in detention and his health has seriously deteriorated, according to hislawyer who visited himon October 23. Huang’s condition is so serious that there is an immediatethreat to his life.

The Chinese government mustimmediately and unconditionally release Huang, who has been detained solely forthe peaceful exercise of his right to freedom of expression, and end its policyof denying prompt medical treatment to prisoners of conscience, which is a formof torture. Several human rights defenders and ethnic and religious minoritieshave diedin detention in recent years due to a lack of prompt medical treatment,including Liu Xiaobo, Cao Shunli, Yang Tongyan, and Tenzin Delek Rinpoche,intensifying fears that Huang Qi might suffer the same fate without urgentintervention.

Huang suffersfrom a chronic kidney disease which requires daily medication, hydrocephalus (accumulation of fluid in the brain), heart disease and otherillnesses. Huang told his lawyer during theOctober meeting that Sichuan authorities had purposely understated the direstate of his health and had tried to cover up his actual condition. Inparticular, Huang’s blood pressure was actually much higher than previouslyrevealed, with a reading done on October 18 and 19 in the detention facilitymeasuring 221/147 mm Hg, a reading so high that it qualifiesas a “hypertensive crisis” (a normal reading should be no higher than 140/90 mmHg). Huang has also reported to his lawyers different forms of torture and otherill-treatment to which he has been subjected to in the past two years,including extendedinterrogations, prolonged periods of being forced to stand, and beatings.

Authorities have repeatedlyrejected applications for release on medical bail despite Huang’s heath conditioncontinuing to deteriorate. He faces charges of “illegally providing statesecrets to foreign entities” and “leaking state secrets” due to his work with64 Tianwang Human Rights Center, which documents and publishes reports on enforceddisappearances, trafficking, human rights violations and complaints against governmentofficials. Huang faces the possibility of life imprisonment. His 85-year-oldmother has been campaigningfor his release, fearing he may die in prison. Last month two of his associatesreceivedsuspended prison sentences and were released, but authorities have continued tohold Huang. The UN Working Group on ArbitraryDetention issuedan opinion in April 2018 that declared Huang’s detention arbitrary, but theChinese government continues to ignore the Working Group’s recommendation thatHuang be released and compensated.

Lawyers representing Huang Qi have also faced retaliation.One of his lawyers, Sui Muqing, was disbarred in February 2018 for defendinghuman rights defenders, such as Huang. Huang’s current lawyer, Liu Zhengqing, receiveda notice in October that he is under investigation for giving Huang cigarettesduring a meeting in July. Liu faces suspension of his law license or a large fine.

Tomorrow, during China’s 3rd Universal PeriodicReview, UN Member States should raise the continued pervasive use of torture andother ill-treatment in China, including tactics like denying medical care forhuman rights defenders, and make clear calls on the Chinese government to endsuch practices.

Background

Mianyang City police inSichuan Province initially detained Huang Qi on November 28, 2016 and arrestedhim the following month on charges of “illegally providing state secrets toforeign entities.” A trial scheduled for June 20, 2018 was suspended withoutany official reason provided. In October 2018 police added an additional chargeof “leaking state secrets.” He is currently being held at Mianyang CityDetention Center.

Huang Qi establishedChina’s first-known human rights monitoring website in 1998, disseminatingreports about Chinese individuals who had been trafficked and disappeared.Huang has served two prison sentences, totalling eight years, in reprisal forhis human rights work, and was often tortured and otherwise to ill-treated. Born in 1963, Huang Qi graduatedfrom Sichuan University and was formerly a businessman. His work in citizenjournalism has received international awards, including two from ReportersWithout Borders, which awarded 64 Tianwang the Press Freedom Prize in 2016, andhonored Huang in 2004 with the Cyber-Freedom Prize.

This statement is endorsed by:

Amnesty International

Association of Taiwan Journalists

China Human Rights Lawyers ConcernGroup

Chinese Human Rights Defenders(CHRD)

Freedom House

Frontline Defenders

Human Rights Watch

FIDH, in the framework of theObservatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders

International Service for HumanRights

Reporters Sans Frontières/ReportersWithout Borders

Safeguard Defenders

Taiwan Association for Human Rights

The Rights Practice World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), inthe framework of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders

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