China Rights Activist's Cancer Spreads After Seven Months Pretrial Detention

2016-06-23
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Huang Yan, in 2015 photo provided by her husband.
Huang Yan, in 2015 photo provided by her husband.
RFA

Detained Guangdong activist Huang Yan, a former torture victim who spoke out publicly in support of rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng, is being denied treatment for spreading ovarian cancer in a police-run detention center, her relatives and rights groups said.

Huang was criminally detained in November 2015 on suspicion of "deliberately disseminating terrorist information" and taken to Shunde Detention Center in the southern province of Guangdong.

She was formally arrested a month later on a lesser charge of "obstructing public duties" in December 2015.

According to the overseas-based Chinese Human Rights Defenders (CHRD) network, Huang has yet to receive adequate treatment for diabetes and ovarian cancer.

During a lawyer visit in April 2016, Huang said that she had recently undergone a medical examination which showed that the cancer had spread, CHRD said in a statement on Thursday.

It quoted an officer at the detention center as saying that Huang would be sent to a military hospital if she is in critical condition, but that, if she dies there, her death would be considered "natural."

During a recent visit from her lawyer Liu Zhengqing, Huang said her diabetes medication had been confiscated, and her ovarian cancer had spread.

But her husband said she had turned down the offer of surgery from the hospital run by the People's Armed Police because she fears it will provide inadequate care.

"Her health is fading, there's no doubt about that," Huang's husband Wu Guisheng told RFA in a recent interview.

"She says that her cancer has already spread [to three locations], but the treatment she was receiving in the armed police hospital was very poor," he said.

"The doctors wanted to carry out surgery, but she is too afraid to have it done in the police hospital."

"She wants to wait to find out when she will be tried, but her lawyer can't get any response on that," he said.

Torture survivor

According to a 2011 statement by rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng, who is currently in custody of state security police at an unknown location, Huang is already a survivor of torture and abuse.

"Huang Yan was kidnapped and imprisoned with Falun Gong practitioners where she suffered cruel torture," Gao wrote. "In addition, Huang saw and heard and with her own eyes and ears torture of Falun Gong adherents that was even more terrifying."

"Under the threat of torture, no one in China today dares to communicate openly with me," he wrote.

For now, Huang's husband Wu Guisheng is hoping that the authorities will set a trial date as soon as possible.

"This has been dragging on for seven months now, and my wife is a cancer patient," Wu told RFA. "What are we to do if she dies?"

"She could die at any moment."

Huang's husband and lawyer both say she is not guilty of obstructing public officials, and that the delays in her case have been caused in part by a lack of evidence against her.

According to CHRD, the group has documented hundreds of cases of torture and mistreatment of human rights defenders since 2012.

In November 2015, the United Nations Committee against Torture (CAT) said torture and ill-treatment remain "deeply entrenched" in China’s law-enforcement and criminal justice systems.

In a statement on its website, CHRD called on the ruling Chinese Communist Party to set up an effective watchdog to probe allegations of torture and detainee abuse in its judicial system.

"[The government should] ensure that all acts of torture are punishable by appropriate penalties in line with their severity," the group said, citing the torture of jailed Guangdong rights lawyer Guo Feixiong, who has been on hunger strike for more than a month over mistreatment in prison.

The government should also compensate and rehabilitate victims of torture, who have also included detainees at the now-closed Masanjia "re-education through labor" camp and Jilin petitioners Guo Hongwei and his 76-year-old mother, Xiao Yunling, it said.

Reported by Zhang Min for RFA's Mandarin Service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.

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