05/29/2018, 13.30
CHINA
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Release of young activist suffering from memory loss after years in prison

He no longer recognises any of his friends, not even the closest. He had been sentenced to five years after three in pretrial detention. His home is under tight surveillance. “"He didn't talk like a young person any more, he sounded dull, and his reactions were very slow," a friend said.

Beijing (AsiaNews/RFA) – Huang Wenxun, a young civil rights activist, can no longer recognise any of his old friends, perhaps because of torture in prison, his activist friends told Radio Free Asia (RFA).

Huang Wenxun (pictured in the middle), 29, was released on 13 May. He had been sentenced to five years in prison in 2016 by a court in Chibi, a city in the central province of Hubei.

Huang had been arrested in June 2013 for participating in protests in favour of press freedom in the south of the country.

The young pro-democracy activist spent three years in a pretrial custody in Guandong, where he endured torture.

"I saw Huang Wenxun yesterday afternoon (23 May)," said his friend and fellow activist Ye Xiaozheng. "He said he didn't know who I was. He didn't recognise any of his old friends from Huizhou or his lawyer Sui Muqing."

According to Ye, Huang was severely sleep-deprived during his entire incarceration, managing to sleep only four or five hours a night.

"We didn't stay long, and left early, because there are surveillance cameras installed all around Huang Wenxun's home, and there are people watching him," he said. "Some of them came over to warn us [not to visit]."

However, the surveillance of the activists did not stop when they left the house. "We hadn't driven very far before we were stopped by a police car," Ye said. "The police officer just targeted me. I have taken care of Huang Wenxun's father all these years, and I think the police just wanted to get their own back on me."

Chen Xiaorong, one of the five who visited Huang, is worried that he did not recognise Ye, one of his dearest friends. “It was because of him that he devoted himself to fighting for democracy," she said.

"He didn't talk like a young person any more, he sounded dull, and his reactions were very slow," Chen said. "I'm not sure but I thought it was maybe due to medications he had been terrorised into taking."

Huang Wenxun is one of the " Chibi Three". Two others, members of the "New Citizens’ Movement" were arrested along with him: Yuan Fengchu, also known as Yuan Bing, and Yuan Xiaohua, who were sentenced to three-and-a-half and four years respectively last month.

They too were held in prolonged pretrial incarceration in the southern province of Guangdong.

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