Urgent Action Update: Lawyer Allegedly Tortured in Detention (China: UA 19.18)

August 24, 2020

Held incommunicado for over 18 months, human rights lawyer Yu Wensheng was finally allowed to meet his lawyer on 14 August. According to his lawyer, Yu was tortured in detention and his health has drastically deteriorated. Charged with “inciting subversion of state power”, Yu was sentenced on 17 June 2020 to four years’ imprisonment and deprivation of political rights for three years. He is a prisoner of conscience, detained solely for peacefully exercising his right to freedom of expression, and must be immediately and unconditionally released.



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Director Yin Zhaoming
Xuzhou City Detention Center
206 Guodaodongze,
Sanbao Zhen Nan, Tongshan Qu
Xuzhou Shi, Jiangsu Sheng, 221112
People’s Republic of China
Ambassador Cui Tiankai
Embassy of the People’s Republic of China
3505 International Place NW, Washington DC 20008
Phone: 202 495 2266 I Fax: 202 495 2138
Email: [email protected]
[email protected]
Salutation: Dear Ambassador



Dear Director Yin,

I am writing to express my concern for Yu Wensheng (余文生), who is currently detained in your facility for peacefully exercising his right to freedom of expression. While it is promising that Yu was able to meet with his lawyer on 14 August more than 18 months in detention, it is alarming to learn of the conditions that he has experienced in Xuzhou City Detention Centre.

Yu Wensheng told his lawyer that, during his detention, he had been sprayed with pepper spray water and was required to sit on a metal chair for an extended period of time, until he partially lost consciousness. Yu also said that he was often not given enough food and that he suffered heatstroke in the summer and was cold in the winter.

Yu’s wife, Xu Yan, has expressed her distress about the sharp deterioration in Yu’s health since he has been held incommunicado. In addition to struggling with hypertension, some of Yu’s teeth fell out and he was too weak to chew his food. Yu also shared that, due to severe tremors, he was no longer able to write with his right hand. Instead, Yu was forced to write his entire appeal submission with his left hand. According to the doctor in the detention center, this condition is irreversible. Yu Wensheng is a prisoner of conscience, detained solely for peacefully exercising his right to freedom of expression. Not only is Yu unjustly imprisoned, he is also enduring inhumane treatment.

Pending Yu Wensheng’s immediate and unconditional release, I call on you to ensure that he is treated in full accordance with the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (the Nelson Mandela Rules) and, specifically, is not subjected to torture or other ill-treatment, including to poor conditions of detention; and that he has regular, unrestricted access to a lawyer of his choice and is granted regular and unrestricted access to food and medical care on request.

Yours sincerely,