Jailed Chinese democracy activist Qin Yongmin is being deprived of reading and writing materials, and his physical and mental health are deteriorating as he is forced to do hard labor, his family says.
Qin, who is currently serving a 13-year jail term for subversion, was visited in Qianjiang Prison in the central province of Hubei by his wife Zhao Suli and brother Qin Yongchang on Saturday, they told RFA.
Zhao, who was allowed to spend just 20 minutes with her husband during the visit, said Qin is under constant surveillance by prison guards and fellow inmates, and is showing visible signs of stress.
"His hands had started shaking the last time I went to see him, and they were still shaking this time," Zhao said. "I don't think he noticed it himself, but it was very obvious to us."
"We don't yet know what's causing it ... but he never had anything like that before," she said.
Qin Yongchang said he fears his brother is being mistreated in the prison.
"Speaking generally, the conditions in that prison are extremely poor," he said. "He was surrounded by five or six fellow prisoners and one guard when we saw him."
Fellow activist Pan Lu, who works at the Rose China group founded by Qin, said the organization is concerned for his health and well-being in prison.
"We have good reason to be concerned that Qin Yongmin could turn into a second Liu Xiaobo," said Pan, referring to the Nobel peace laureate's death from late-stage liver cancer in prison custody in July 2017.
"The prison authorities are making Qin Yongmin suffer in every way they can," he said. "They are forcing him to do heavy labor, and they have ordered people to watch him the whole time."
"They won't let him read books, the newspapers, or to study," he said.
Qin, 65, was sentenced last July to 13 years' imprisonment by the Wuhan Intermediate People's Court, which convicted him of "incitement to subvert state power." He had already served nearly 26 years in jail.
Fellow activists say he suffers from high blood pressure, and recently tried refusing food in protest at conditions inside the prison.
Qin was detained alongside Zhao in 2015, and both were initially held in an unknown location. Zhao later disappeared for three years, resurfacing briefly in February before being confined once more to residential surveillance.
Qin was eventually tracked down by friends and lawyers to the Wuhan No. 2 Detention Center, where he was held in pretrial detention for more than three years.
A contemporary of exiled dissident Wei Jingsheng, Qin was sentenced to eight years in prison for "counterrevolutionary propaganda and subversion" in the wake of China's Democracy Wall movement in 1981.
He served a further two years' "re-education through labor" in 1993 after he penned a controversial document titled the "Peace Charter."
Qin then served a 12-year jail term for subversion after he helped found the China Democracy Party in 1998, in spite of a ban on opposition political parties.
Reported by Qiao Long for RFA's Mandarin Service. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.