11/23/2004, 00.00
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Tiananmen dissident tortured to the point of becoming psychotic

He splattered paint on Mao Zedong's portrait.

Beijing (AsiaNews/SCMP) – An imprisoned Chinese dissident has become psychotic as a result of the torture inflicted upon him, one of the man's friend told Free Asia after fleeing China.

Yu Dongyue is a former newspaper editor who was arrested during the Tiananmen protests and sentenced to life for "counter-revolutionary propaganda": he had defaced Mao's portrait by splattering it with paint.

In 2001 Lu Decheng, another dissident, who was jailed for years but released early, saw Yu in Hunan No1 Prison. "He was almost unrecognisable," Mr Lu said who recently escaped the mainland in a perilous three-month journey.  "He had a totally dull look in his eyes, and he kept repeating words over and over again as if he were chanting a mantra. He didn't recognise anyone."

"There was a big scar on the right side of his head. I asked his mother if Yu had ever received a head injury, but she said he never had."

Mr Lu said that another inmate at the prison told him that Yu had been tied to a power pole and left in the sun for several days.

"After that, they locked him in solitary confinement for two years and that's when he got like that," Mr Lu stressed. "He has been tortured to the point of psychosis."

Officials at the Hunan No1 Prison were not available for comment.

Yu Dongyue, Lu Decheng and Yu Zhijian were school friends from Hunan province and had been active in the pro-democracy movement before travelling to Beijing in May 1989 to join thousands of demonstrators on Tiananmen Square.

As a result of his involvement, Mr Lu said, his house was demolished, his wife threatened to the point that the authorities forced her to divorce him, and his minibus confiscated, depriving him of the means to earn a living.

Phone tapping, mail interception and surveillance became a regular part of his life, he added.

Speaking from an undisclosed location, he said he fled so that he could tell Yu's story. He did not reveal any details about his escape.

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