The wife of detained human rights lawyer Chang Weiping has said that his health has deteriorated rapidly while in detention due to torture and poor nutrition and conditions. Dr Chen Zijuan made the comments after Chang met with his lawyer for the third time on 17 October.
According to Chen, Chang was in good health at aged 36 when he was detained in October 2020, but he reportedly told his lawyer months of ill-treatment and “vicious torture” have left him with various ailments and diseases. These include blood in his stool, varicose veins in his legs, severe back and shoulder pain, and stomach problems from poor diet.
Chen also reported that Chang had been tortured by investigators and forced to sit in a “tiger chair” for six consecutive days and nights from 22-27 October 2020. From that time until the end of January 2021, he was constantly deprived of sleep and given only one steamed bun as a meal, three times per day. Access to drinking water and use of the toilet were also severely restricted. Chen concluded that based on this information, Chang’s current health problems were caused by torture and ill-treatment in detention.
Reports of the torture first emerged after Chang’s lawyer was finally able to meet with him for the first time on 14 September. Previous requests for visits by his family and lawyers had been repeatedly denied.
Chang Weiping was detained 22 October 2020. Prior to his detention, he represented clients in cases related to freedom of religion or belief (FoRB), forced demolition and discrimination (HIV, gender and LGBT issues).
In March 2021 the charge against Chang was changed from ‘inciting subversion’ to ‘subversion’, an even more serious charge which can carry punishments of up to a life sentence. In April 2021, CSW issued an urgent briefing calling for his immediate and unconditional release. Last month his wife learned that he had been indicted, meaning that the case is going forward and the authorities are most likely preparing for trial.
CSW’s Founder President Mervyn Thomas said: “As more information emerges about Chang Weiping’s unjust and arbitrary detention, which has now been ongoing for close to a year, it is clearer than ever that he has been subject again to severe and utterly inhumane torture and ill-treatment. We stand in solidarity with his wife, Dr Chen Zijuan, who has tirelessly and courageously called attention to his case, and we join her and other human rights organisations and supporters in calling for Chang’s immediate and unconditional release. We further call on the international community, including governments, UN bodies and Member States, to raise his case with the Chinese authorities at every opportunity both in public and in private.”