A lawyer detained in China’s sweeping crackdown on lawyers and activists has been beaten whilst detailed, his wife has said.

Xie Yang was detained in China’s sweeping crackdown on human rights lawyers and activists in July 2015 for “inciting subversion of state power.” He represented clients in many politically sensitive cases including an activist arrested during the “jasmine revolution” crackdown and the family of a petitioner shot to death by police in May 2015.

xie yang
Xie Yang. Photo: China Change.

On November 21, Xie’s lawyer Zhang Zhongshi visited him at the Changsha No. 2 Detention Centre. As Zhang waited in the meeting room, he heard yelling and crying sounds from far down the corridor that were sustained for about five minutes, Xie’s wife Dr. Chen Guiqiu – a professor of chemical engineering – wrote in statements that she posted online on Wednesday and Thursday.

Punched in the head

Xie told Zhang when he reached the meeting room that he wanted to bring Zhang some materials. When a guard named Yuan Jin did not allow it, Xie brought them back to the prison cell to express his dissatisfaction with the guard. Yuan then clamped Xie’s handcuffs tight, told another guard to leave, and dragged Xie to a corner of the corridor. He then punched Xie in the head multiple times, and Xie retaliated by kicking him.

Xie said that he previously clashed with Yuan and the guard was acting in revenge. When Zhang felt his head, it seemed that one side was swelling up.

xie yang
Xie Yang and Chen Guiqiu. Photo: fochk.org.

Xie is also being ostracised, on orders from the police, in order to erode his will, Chen said. Police have ordered his cell mates not to talk to him or include him in card games.

“Xie Yang revealed that the torture that we, on the outside, know of is only the tip of the iceberg,” Chen wrote. “Xie Yang’s attitude is very firm – he maintains that he is innocent and refuses to confess, and firmly trusts in the defence lawyer that his wife hired.”

Lin Qilei, Xie’s other lawyer, said that when he and Zhang enquired about the beating on Tuesday, they were told by prison authorities that they were investigating the matter.

A man who picked up the phone at the detention centre said Yuan Jin was away. He declined to answer HKFP’s questions about the incident.

Previous reports of maltreatment

Xie’s family released a statement in August condemning his alleged torture at the Changsha detention centre. He yelled out of a window for help while the police were not watching and was then beaten unconscious before being sent to the hospital, the family cited an individual familiar with the situation as saying.

Xie told his lawyers that he was tortured in August 2015 while under residential surveillance and in July 2016 when police tried to coerce him into confessing. Those under residential surveillance are kept at a secret location unbeknownst their families.

“The police have repeatedly asked me to coax Xie Yang to confess, promising that if he does, he would be given a suspended sentence,” Chen wrote in August.

Missing legal activist Jiang Tianyong visited Chen and accompanied her to the Changsha detention centre to enquire about her husband before he disappeared last Monday evening.

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.