Lawyer Li Chunfu shows signs of deep mental and physical scars after 18 months in prison
He has represented 200 miners in Hebei and some members of the Falun Gong movement. His brother, a Christian lawyer, has represented members of house churches and political dissidents. The police have probably threatened him of jailing him again if he talks about his situation and if he meets other human rights lawyers, or their spouses, who are fighting for their release. China Change calls for an international investigation into torture and violence in China.
Beijing (AsiaNews) – Li Chunfu, a human rights lawyer released from jail two days ago after 18 months of detention, was taken to a Beijing hospital by some lawyers friends this morning for a medical check-up.
Showing signs of deep psychological and physical scars, he told them, “I thought I’d never seen you all again”. Voicing some of his past and present fears, he asked, “Will the police show up?”
Li is a human right lawyer (pictured), well-known for representing 200 miners in Hebei in their demand for safety at work as well as members of the Falun Gong movement.
He is the younger brother of Li Heping, who was arrested on 10 July 10 2015. Li Chunfu himself was taken into custody the following month, on 1 August, 2015.
After six months under house arrest, he was charged with "inciting subversion of state power" and jailed in January 2016. Granted bail on 5 January pending trial, he was formally released on 12 January.
The Li brothers and hundreds of other lawyers were arrested during a government campaign against human rights lawyers, the so-called "709 incident" (named after the day, July 9, when arrests began).
Li Heping is a Christian lawyer who has represented members of house churches and political dissidents. His wife, Wang Qiaoling, Li Chunfu’s sister-in-law, went to see him as soon as he got home.
She told China Change* that Li Chunfu was able to recognise them, but couldn’t form coherent sentences. Speaking about Chunfu’s wife, she told them: “Last night he was saying that he felt like insects were biting his body inside, that his heart had been eaten away by bugs bit by bit, and there wasn’t much of it left!”
Li Chunfu is still in a state of terror and confusion. When he saw his wife making a phone call, he shot his arm out and gripped her tight around the neck, growling: “Who are you calling?! You want to harm me!”
From his confused behaviour, it is clear that the police must have threatened to jail him again should he talk about his situation or meet other human rights lawyers or their spouses, who are fighting for their release.
Given Li Chunfu’s physical and mental state, China Change fears for the fate of many of his colleagues, who might also be subjected to torture and violence.
In view of such a situation, the group calls on the international community to launch an investigation into such cases of extreme abuse.
* China Change is a website devoted to news and commentary related to civil society, rule of law, and rights activities in China.