Zhu Xiaoyan, the U.S.-based sister of veteran jailed democracy activist Zhu Yufu, has called on the ruling Chinese Communist Party to end the beatings and mistreatment meted out to her brother in prison.
Zhu is serving seven-year jail term for subversion in No. 4 Prison in the eastern Chinese province of Zhejiang after he penned a poem calling on people to vote with their feet.
Zhu Xiaoyan told RFA that her brother was severely beaten by prison guards on Feb. 11, to the point where he lost consciousness and his blood pressure rose to 230 over 120.
"My brother is 65 years old now," Zhu Xiaoyan said. "When the prison guards told him to shave, he told them very courteously that he would do it when he had received his visit."
Zhu's wife Jiang Hangli was scheduled to visit him on Feb. 11, and he said he had no sufficiently sharp razor to shave with, Zhu Xiaoyan said.
"He said that razors were under central control, and that he'd have to apply for one, but the prison guards deliberately made an issue of it, and they wouldn't allow him to meet with [Jiang]," she said.
"My brother had barely finished speaking when the prison guards grabbed him and beat him to the ground, bashing the back of his head on the ground which caused bleeding, and he lost consciousness immediately," Zhu Xiaoyan said.
"His blood pressure jumped to 230 over 120 straight away," she said.
She said political prisoners in China's penal system are usually subjected to more ill-treatment than regular criminals.
"My brother has been appallingly treated," she said. "He hasn't been given sufficiently nourishing food, he's not allowed to read books or newspapers, nor to write or receive letters."
"He's not allowed to call his family; all of his rights have been stripped away," she said. "As his family members, we fear for his life."
Zhu Xiaoyan cited the recent death in custody of democracy activist Peng Ming, who died suddenly last November while while serving jail time in the central Chinese province of Hubei.
Years before his death at the age of 58 in Hubei's Xianning Prison, he had left a letter warning that he might meet with an "accident," and asking his family demand an autopsy.
But the authorities removed vital organs and cremated Peng's remains in December without the permission of his U.S.-based family.
"Political prisoners are simply people with different opinions ... Should he get such a harsh punishment just for something he wrote?" Zhu Xiaoyan said.
"He would never hurt anyone; he's a cultivated man who wouldn't even use swear-words. How afraid must the [ruling Chinese] Communist Party be to treat him in such a despicable manner?"
"He just wrote a tiny poem, of less than 100 characters ... We would be so grateful if they could just spare his life," Zhu Xiaoyan said.
Zhu is a veteran activist who first caught the attention of the authorities during the Democracy Wall movement of 1978.
He was sentenced in 1998 to a seven-year jail term for his involvement with an unprecedented attempt to register the Zhejiang provincial branch of the China Democracy Party as a civil organization with the authorities.
He was handed a seven-year jail term in February 2012 after he wrote the poem, titled “It Is Time,” during online calls for "Jasmine" rallies inspired by protests in the Middle East in early 2011.
"It is time, people of China! It is time," the poem read. "The square belongs to us all; our feet are our own."
"It is time to use our feet to go to the square and to make a choice...We should use our choices to decide the future of China."
Reported by C.K. for RFA's Mandarin Service. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.