Earlier this week, a prominent human rights lawyer and activist were reported missing on the day that he was due to be released from prison.
Jiang Tianyong, a human rights advocate and critical lawyer to Xi Jinping’s political system, was supposedly picked up by his supporters after the end of his prison sentence but police officers have told them that he already left.
His wife, who is residing at the US, said that his father and sister, who is scheduled to meet him outside the prison are also now unreachable as their phones have been turned off since Wednesday.
Until now, neither his supporters not his wife was able to contact him or his father and sister.
Tianyong is a vocal government critic that was sentenced to jail for ‘conversion of state power,’ and defaming China’s political system, in a while that human rights groups have called a ‘sham.’
According to his supporters, police officers have told then ‘he had been taken away,’ however, they did not mention who took him and why he was taken.
Jiang Tianyong is an outspoken human rights lawyer critical of the 2015 crackdown of dissenters, representing sine of the activists that have been charged by the government.
In August 2017, Tianyong was brought to the courts; and according to local media, he read out a confession, telling the court that he attended overseas training sessions encouraging him to reject China’s political system.
BBC reports that approximately 39 lawyers, legal assistants, and advocates were brought to questioning and interrogated, with two dozens of these cases were pursued as official investigations.
Tianyong is not the only one who was arrested for the same offense under the same circumstances. Last month, another well-known Chinese lawyer Wang Quanzhang was sentenced to four and a half year in prison for ‘subverting state power’ charges.
TORTURE AND SOLITARY CONFINEMENT
In a BBC interview, another political prisoner named Xie Yanyi revealed the torture and the physical abuse he got from the authorities during his incarceration.
He said that he was kept in a stress position -crouched on a low stool for more than 16 hours from 6:00 in the morning to 10:00 in the evening. After a time, his legs went numb after 15 days, and he had difficulty in urinating.
There were countless of instances where he was starved and denied food during subsequent and continuous interrogations. He was also beaten by the authorities, he accounted.
During his sleep, he said that police officers watch him over so that he would keep the same position throughout the night. He even said the worst of his experiences come from the time he was placed into solitary confinement.
After his release, he was warned by the authorities not to speak to the media – an order that he did not follow.
“It might be risky to do this interview,” he tells me.
“But I feel it’s my responsibility to speak out. I have no choice. I can’t accept a society that arrests people for what they think and what they say.”
Tianyong and Yanyi are only two of the victims of what human rights groups dubbed as China’s ‘war on law.’
‘WAR ON LAW’
According to human rights advocates, the crackdown has started since mid-2015, half-way through Xi Jinping’s term. When he was elected on his second term by the Communist Party Congress, things just got worse.
Some of the dissenters, political critics, and human rights advocates have been giving long jail terms, others await sentence, and at least one has disappeared completely.
The target of the crackdown are lawyers who represent victims of corruption, police violence, and religious persecutions. They are also advocates of peaceful democratic reforms.
During the 2012 Communist Party Congress, a document was leaked outlining seven ideological concepts that posed a threat to the Communist Party rule.
Issued by an office close to the senior Communist Party leadership, the document includes forbidden ideological principles of ‘Western constitutional democracy, universal values, and civil society.’
The Communist Party of China with the leadership of Xi Jinping has achieved its ideological control over China by narrowing the room for public discussions, tightening control over the media, establishing new restrictions on foreign organizations and charities, clamping down on the internet, and campaigning against human rights lawyers.
According to BBC, Xi Jinping’s message to the people of China is clear: “‘think very carefully before daring to challenge the authority of the Communist Party, even in the country’s own, Communist Party-run courts.”