Prominent human rights activist Yang Maodong, better known by his pseudonym Guo Feixiong, was sentenced to six years' imprisonment for "gathering a crowd to disrupt public order" and "picking quarrels and stirring up trouble" by a court in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong along with two co-defendants last November. His sister Yang Maoping, now in the United States, spoke to RFA's Mandarin Service about growing concerns for Guo's health and safety amid uncertainty over his location:
The family are very worried and we hope to be able to visit him as soon as possible. We are all waiting for news.
It seems that he's still in the detention center. My other brother is even more worried than the rest of us. He called me just now [from China] and asked me if there was still no news. He calls every day.
The law states that you can't visit somebody outside of office hours, and if you call [the detention center] outside of those hours, nobody picks up.
I actually read through China's Prison Law, where I read that they have to inform the relatives [of a prisoner's whereabouts] within five days [of a prisoner transfer]. They really should walk their talk. They should act according to the way it is set down in law. Otherwise, how can anyone trust them?
They know that the family are beside themselves with worry, because they don't know where he is. Of course we are.
I called them up [recently] in the Tianhe Detention Center ... and a woman answered the phone. I said: 'I need to know if Yang Maodong has been transferred to prison or not.' She said: 'He could be transferred at any time.' I said: 'It's very cold, and I'd like to send him a padded jacket.' She said: 'We can't accept a padded jacket from you.' She also said that the family won't be allowed to visit him until after his transfer to prison.
There was something that made the whole family very worried indeed. It said in the Prison Law that the relatives must be informed within five days of somebody transferring to prison. But we don't even know where he is being held.
Reported by Zhang Min for RFA's Mandarin Service. Translated by Luisetta Mudie.