China: RSF urges for release of ailling investigative journalist Huang Xueqin, detained for over 500 days
Chinese investigative journalist Huang Xueqin, who has now been detained for over 500 days, has been subjected to mistreatment that led to significant health deterioration. Reporters Without Borders (RSF) calls for her immediate release.
Chinese independent journalist Huang Xueqin (Sophia Huang), 2022 RSF Press Freedom Prize nominee famous for her involvement in the #MeToo movement in China, has been detained since 19 September 2021 and faces, together with labour activist Wang Jianbing, a 15 years sentence for “inciting subversion of state power”. After 500 days of detention, she is still awaiting trial in No.1 Detention Center in Guangzhou and was reportedly subjected to mistreatment, and possibly torture, that led to significant deterioration of her health.
“By mistreating, and presumably torturing Huang Xueqin, detained prominent journalist respected for contribution to #MeToo movement, Chinese regime is evidently trying to set an example and silence all remaining independent voices in the country. Beijing must immediately release Huang, alongside all 114 journalists and press freedom defenders detained in China.
In the beginning of her detention, Huang was placed in solitary confinement for five months without access to lawyers and faced repeated interrogations, often in the midst of the night. She has lost a lot of weight, and reportedly stopped menstruating, and suffers from severe calcium deficiency, hypoglycemia and low blood pressure. Stabbing pains in her waist, reported by her friends, are believed to be a result of prolonged interrogation in the "tiger chair", a notorious torture tool used by the Chinese police.
Huang was previously detained for three months in 2019 under the charge of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble” for covering the pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong.
Along with Huang, at least 15 other press freedom defenders detained in China may soon suffer a deadly fate, including two ailing journalists Zhang Zhan and Huang Qi. Since Chinese leader Xi Jinping took office in 2012, at least three prominent press freedom defenders died of mistreatment while in detention, namely Nobel Peace Prize and RSF Press Freedom Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo, and dissident blogger Yang Tongyan in 2017, and leading source of information on Tibet for journalists Kunchok Jinpa, in 2021.
China ranks 175th out of 180 in the 2022 RSF World Press Freedom Index and is the world's largest captor of journalists with at least 115 detained.