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Teaching a lesson about torture

Volunteers get a feel for the horrors of Chinese torture

Teaching a lesson about torture
Leung Shong-tung volunteers to experience the "tiger stool," a form of torture used on political dissidents in mainland China reporter, Hong Kong
Hong Kong

August 10, 2011

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A 15-year-old boy bowed his head in the sweltering heat, his hands shackled to the legs of a chair, and tried to maintain a squatting position for three minutes. The sweating teenager eventually gave up. “My legs are numb. I feel so tired and painful.” Leung Shong-tung experienced for only moments what some political dissidents in China endure for days or weeks or longer, during a program entitled Torture Experience Activity at a pedestrian area in downtown Mongkok. The event, held on August 7 and organized by Amnesty International Hong Kong in coordination with the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements in China, the Catholic Justice and Peace Commission and the China Human Rights Lawyers Concern Group, sought to educate Hong Kong people about the experiences of torture that human rights activists in mainland China suffer. “It is unimaginable how one could stand such torture for several hours or weeks. It is too inhumane. It is unnecessary to treat dissidents this way,” Leung said after his experience with the “tiger stool.” Participants in the event received pamphlets that explained the 10 most common forms of torture used by security officials in China. These include hanging by the arms for several hours, being tied to a chair, being forced to endure harsh weather wearing little or no clothing and being forced to stand at attention like a soldier for hours. Richard Tsoi, one of the organizers, said information about torture techniques have been compiled from accounts by a variety of sources. He said that rights activist Chen Guangcheng and his wife were badly beaten while under house arrest and even after their release last year. Human rights lawyer Gao Zhicheng was also reportedly beaten and not allowed to sleep during long stretches of his nearly two-year detention. Some mainland government officials treat dissidents “like the mafia to humiliate them and to scare them into not participating in human rights activities,” Tsoi said. Though only a few people agreed to experience a milder version of torture techniques, many more were curious about the program and read the literature being distributed. “It is not surprising that these things happen in China. Every Chinese should know about it,” said one tourist from the mainland who asked not to be identified. A staff member from the Justice and Peace Commission said that authorities have also used similar torture techniques to force the “underground” clergy to accept the independent Church principle and to tighten official control of the Church. “Since there is little understanding of the rule of law and political accountability, some officials adopt these inhuman methods wantonly on the common people,” the staff member said, also refusing to be identified. Related reports: Officials free ‘underground’ priest Cardinal protests for religious freedom Chinese rights lawyer Gao disappears again

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