Jailed Chinese rights activist Yang Maodong has refused to end his hunger strike after six weeks, his lawyer has said.

Lawyer Zhang Lei told RFA’s Cantonese service that Yang, better known by his pen name Guo Feixiong, looked very weak when he saw him on Monday in a Guangdong prison.

Yang Maodong in an undated photo. Photo: RFA.

“Many of his friends and his relatives hope he will stop the hunger strike. We passed their thoughts to him but he clearly expressed that he will not halt the hunger strike,” said Zhang.

Yang also discussed an appeal with Zhang during the visit, but Yang refused to sign the appeal after prison authorities requested that he delete part of the statement, Zhang said.

Zhang was the first person to see Yang since the early stages of his hunger strike, which began on May 9. Yang started the hunger strike to protest his treatment in detention. According to Amnesty International, Yang was subjected to a humiliating colonoscopy against his will on May 9, and authorities threatened to put the video on the internet. He was also subjected to verbal insults from prison guards and his head was forcibly shaved. Before his sentence, he was held in prolonged pretrial detention, held alone in a small cell and denied access to the exercise yard for almost two years.

“Save Guo Feixiong NOW.” Photo: Su Yutong.

Yang’s sister Yang Maoping told RFA that the family is trying to get Yang transferred from Yangchun Prison to another facility.

Yang’s sister and his wife have expressed concerns about the hunger strike and possible force-feeding measures aggravating his health issues. After Yang’s sister exchanged notes with him on June 15, she wrote an account saying: “I am too frightened: as his health is getting worse and worse, and his character remains as resolute and unyielding as before – will Yang Maodong live long enough to walk out of prison?!!!”

Catherine Lai

Catherine is a Canadian journalist and photographer who lived in Beijing for almost two years, working in TV and online media. Aside from Hong Kong and mainland affairs, she is also interested in urban spaces, art and feminism. She holds a BA in Literature and Art History from the University of British Columbia.