12/02/2016, 11.44
CHINA

Peng Ming, Christian ecologist and activist, dies in prison. Three other disappeared "at the risk of torture"

by Wang Zhicheng

Peng Ming was sentenced to life imprisonment in 2005. In the past he had a brilliant managerial career. Later he wrote books on democracy and environmental protection against the violent industrialization in the country. He was convicted of "terrorism." Still no word on Christian lawyer Jiang Tianyong. Dissident Xie Yang beaten by prison officers. Lawyer Huang Qi and reporter Liu Fei detained by police.

 

Beijing (AsiaNews) - Peng Ming, a Christian activist sentenced to life in prison has died in prison in Hubei. His family and friends are demanding that the cause of death be made known but have received no response. Meanwhile, three human rights defenders, lawyers and activists, Christians and otherwise, have been missing for weeks and the police show no interest in their cases.

Peng Ming (photo 1) was interned in prison Xianning (Hubei). On 29 November, in the morning struck by an illness unknown, he was rushed to hospital where he was pronounced dead. The death certificate does not mention a specific cause of death. The online comments of his dissident friends express "doubts about the official version of events," also because a few days before his death, on November 24, his brother Peng Zhangming had gone to visit him and found him "in good health".

Family members have asked for more information from the prison authorities, but received no response. The authorities have also refused to respond to requests from Radio Free Asia.

Peng Ming was a promising manager in the 1990s, engaged in China's aerospace industry. Then he began publishing articles and books on the environment and on necessary democratic reforms, while the nation was in the throes of a violent industrialization. In 1998 he founded, along with other dissidents a "Union for the development of China." After a few months the organization was declared illegal; Peng was sentenced to 18 months in prison.

On release, he fled with his family to Vietnam, Thailand and then the United States. In May 2004 he flew to Thailand and then Myanmar to meet some relatives and dissidents. The Burmese authorities, alerted by China, arrested him and handed him over to the Chinese police. In 2005 he was sentenced to life imprisonment by the court of Wuhan (Hubei) for having "managed and led a terrorist organization". According to the court, in fact, Peng called for "violent change of the Chinese regime" with a book he wrote entitled "Project democracy".

Meanwhile, there are growing concerns about the "disappearance" of three important defenders of human rights: the Christian lawyer Jiang Tianyong in Beijing; the founder of the internet site Tianwang, Huang Qi in Sichuan; activist and journalist Liu Feiyue Hubei.

China Human Rights Defenders (CHRD) states that "it is thought that the police are keeping the three men in an unknown location, and fears are growing that they might be tortured."

Jin Bianling, the wife of Jiang Tianyong, has explicitly requested the police investigate the disappearance of her husband, but police questioned his dissident ties and refused to open an investigation.

In the past Jiang defended many Christian, Muslim, and Falun Gong personalities and was even disbarred by Beijing lawyers. He disappeared just after going to Changsha (Shandong) to visit the family of Xie Yang a detained dissident lawyer (Photo 2).

Recently, Xie's wife, Chen Guiqiu said that her husband was beaten savagely just before meeting with his lawyer in the prison of Changsha. The guards did not want him to present a document to his lawyer.

Meanwhile, in Sichuan, the mother of the activist Huang Qi says he has disappeared in police custody.

Huang Qi was arrested and his home ransacked on November 28th. Huang, 51, had already been sentenced to three years in prison in 2011 after gathering documents and surveys on school buildings that collapsed in the time of the earthquake in Sichuan in 2008, costing the lives of thousands of people.

Liu Fei, an activist journalist, was arrested in Hubei on 17 November.  Police picked him up from his home on suspicion of "subversion of state power", a generic accusation under which all human rights defenders are imprisoned.

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