BEIJING — Chinese activists are frequently subjected to harsh punishments for challenging the authority of the oppressive communist regime in China. The latest injustice to befall these dissidents comes in the form of inhumane prison conditions.
Chinese Human Rights Defenders — a nonprofit human rights organization — just released a list of a dozen Chinese activists who are currently being denied necessary medical attention while in Chinese prisons. The majority of their health ailments can be traced to unsanitary jail cells and torture.
The most prominent political prisoner on the list, Liu Ping, was handed a jail sentence of over six years last week. She had been held in detainment for a year prior to the sentencing. Her lawyers and several human rights organizations claim she was severely beaten and choked during her time in detention. She also suffers from diarrhea on a daily basis.
Ping’s daughter attests to her condition but also her resilience: “I hadn’t seen her in a long time,” she said. “She’d gotten thin and looked yellowish. She looked a lot older. But her voice was confident.”
In a statement at her trial, Ping declared, “Every step that I have taken, it has all been in the lawful pursuit of equality, freedom and democracy. I have put into action all that I believe in. History will declare my innocence!”
Though history may indeed vindicate her, the present situation of Ping and her fellow political prisoners is bleak. Dissidents are dying in prison because the Chinese are unwilling to give them the proper medical treatment.
In March, Chinese activist Cao Shunli died after months of being denied life-saving treatment while in prison. She was only taken to the hospital after she fell into a coma. Tibetan activist Goshul Lobsang recently died under similar circumstances.
Ping’s lawyers are seeking her release on medical parole, but given the track record of Chinese authorities, her chances are slim to none.
Since 2005, exactly zero medical paroles have been granted to Chinese political prisoners.
Prior to then, it was common practice to give medical paroles on the condition that they seek treatment outside of China.
For Ping and the at least 11 other ailing political prisoners, such a deal would be a welcome reprieve. But despite the fact that China has signed onto an International agreement guaranteeing the treatment of sick prisoners, Chinese authorities have shown no signs of upholding its agreement.
Still, in the face of overwhelming odds, these Chinese political prisoners have widespread support. A bevy of Chinese human rights organization and human rights lawyers have all pledged to fight for their fundamental right to basic medical treatment.
At some point, the international pressure on Chinese authorities will be enough to finally prevent the torture and general mistreatment that Chinese political prisoners face every day.
– Sam Hillestad
Sources: Dui Hua, Quartz, Sinosphere Blog
Photo: Conservative Home