Rights groups urge China to free jailed Chinese activist whose life is in ‘immediate’ danger

An undated picture of Chinese activist Huang Qi Image: AFP/File FRED DUFOUR

DHARAMSALA, Nov 5: Human rights groups have called on China for the immediate and unconditional release of Huang Qi, China’s first “cyber-dissident” as his health has severely deteriorated in detention.

“The Chinese government must immediately and unconditionally release Huang, who has been detained solely for the peaceful exercise of his right to freedom of expression, and end its policy of denying prompt medical treatment to prisoners of conscience, which is a form of torture,” a group of 14 non-profits, including Amnesty International and the Human Rights Watch, said in a statement earlier today according to various media reports.

According to the rights groups, Huang suffers from chronic kidney disease, hydrocephalus or accumulation of fluid in the brain, and heart disease and requires daily medication.

It is understood that Huang, 55, who was arrested in 2016 for “leaking state secrets”, is currently being held in Mianyang Detention Centre in southwestern Sichuan province is in danger of dying under police custody if he does not receive medical treatment for a host of severe health conditions.

The rights groups fear that Huang will meet the same fate as other human rights defenders and ethnic group activists such as Liu Xiaobo, Cao Shunli and Yang Tongyan, who died in recent years due to a lack of prompt medical care.

The statement calling for Huang’s release came a day ahead of China’s 3rd Universal Periodic Review at the UN Human Rights Council. China’ was reviewed for the first time in 2009 and for the second time in 2013.

Huang, China’s first “cyber-dissident” ran a website called “64 Tianwang”, named after the bloody June 4, 1989 crackdown on Tiananmen Square pro-democracy protesters.

The website, now blocked in China publishes reports on topics that are rarely seen in the Chinese state-run media which includes local corruption cases, police brutality, cases of forced disappearances and human trafficking in China.

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