Persons claiming to be police have visited the parents of activist Jiang Tianyong and asked for their cooperation, according to Jiang’s wife.

State media claimed last week that reports of Chinese human rights lawyer Xie Yang being tortured in prison were “cleverly orchestrated lies” by Jiang, a former lawyer.

Photos: RFA, Twitter/Jin Bianling.

Jiang went missing in November. Police in Changsha, the capital of Hunan province, admitted they were holding him in custody in December. However, his family still does not know where he is and his lawyers have not been able to see him.

Jiang ‘not tortured’ 

Three people who claimed they were from the Xinyang Public Security Bureau, but were not wearing uniforms, visited Jiang’s parents’ home Friday afternoon around 3pm, according to Jiang’s wife Jin Bianling – who posted on Twitter from the US. They were accompanied by personnel from the local police station and village committee.

The three declined to disclose their identities and departments when asked by Jiang’s parents.

The three brought gifts such as milk, and said they were there on orders from their superiors to “transmit messages” to Jiang’s parents, Jin told US-backed Radio Free Asia.

Jiang’s wife Jin Bianling. Photo: RFA.

“Their superior said that Jiang’s matter was reported on TV, and he hoped the family would not believe outside rumours. They also said Jiang Tianyong was very well and was not tortured,” Jin said.

Jin said she was able to contact Jiang’s parents and spoke to one of the men surnamed Zhang on the phone. He did not tell her his full name. He told her to transmit positive energy – a catchphrase often used by leaders – to Jiang’s parents and asked them to believe in the party and in the government,

They emphasised many times that they didn’t know Jiang’s condition, and were only there to transmit messages for their leaders, and asked Jiang’s family to cooperate with them.

Photo: Twitter/Jin Bianling.

Jiang’s lawyer Chen Jinxue told RFA that he received a call from staff at a branch of the Changsha Public Security Bureau notifying him that his request to meet with Jiang submitted a few days earlier was refused.

“They still won’t let lawyers meet him, for the reason that meeting Jiang Tianyong may interfere with the investigation or leak national secrets. I said that an interview with a reporter did not interfere with the investigation or leak national secrets, so how can a meeting with his lawyers [do so]?”

Legal action

Chen said they are planning to sue the Global Times and Phoenix TV and request the authorities provide the legal basis for conducting an interview with Jiang.

RFA previously reported that the local authorities had installed security cameras outside Jiang’s parents’ home following an interview they gave to British channel ITV. They were later removed. They also warned Jiang’s father not to conduct interviews with overseas media.

The Hong Kong-based China Human Rights Lawyers Concern Group condemned Hunan authorities for setting up Jiang’s interviews with state media in a statement.

“The China Human Rights Lawyers Concern Group (CHRLCG) is outraged by yet another attempt by the Chinese government to run slanderous campaigns and media trials against the human rights lawyers in the country via means of the state-controlled media.”

It called for the authorities to allow Jiang to meet his lawyers and take other steps to comply with international human rights principles.

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.