A prominent writer and dissident who fled China with his family a week ago has given a brutal account of torture at the hands of state security police after being kidnapped in the lead up to the Nobel Peace Prize award ceremony for pro-democracy activist Liu Xiaobo.
Yu Jie, 38, and a former vice president of the Independent Chinese PEN Center, said he was taken on Dec. 9, 2010 with a black hood over his head to an undisclosed location where he was subjected to routine beatings and abuse by undercover officers.
“I was stripped naked and made to kneel on the ground while plainclothes policemen pelted me with blows to the head and body, slapped me, made me slap myself, bent my fingers backward, kicked me in the chest, and stomped on me,” Yu told a press conference in Washington on Wednesday.
“They also took photos of me and threatened to post them on the Internet. The police took me to the hospital after I became unconscious, and told the hospital staff that I was epileptic,” he said.
Yu also said his writing was subject to years of official censorship, rendering him a “’non-existent person’ in the public space,” in addition to harassment and house arrest from authorities since his friend and fellow dissident Liu Xiaobo received the Nobel Peace Prize while in detention in October 2010.
Yu, his wife, and son relocated to the U.S. on Jan. 11. He is in the final stages of publishing a biography on Liu and is currently writing another book about China under President Hu Jintao.
In his first interview after reaching the U.S., Yu told RFA that after Liu won the Nobel Peace Prize "my situation deteriorated rapidly … I was subjected to torture.”
Yu, who is also a leader of the underground Protestant church in China, said that “as a writer and as a Christian, I no longer had any freedom to express myself and to practice my religion. So I chose to come to the United States, where I can live freely."
Yu Jie said that China’s harsh treatment of “gentle intellectuals” such as himself and Liu Xiaobo shows that China has “given up the path of peaceful reform.”
His biggest hope, he said, is that Liu will someday receive the same level of international support and recognition as Nelson Mandela.
Although he was warned before leaving China not to speak about his experiences, he said, “My heart and soul would not be free, they would still be in a cage, if I did not speak the truth here.”
He has vowed to continue his writing as part of his struggle to help bring freedom to his compatriots.
Reported by Joshua Lipes.