Huang Qi is widely considered China’s first cyber dissident. He ran a website called “64 Tianwang,” named after the June 4, 1989, crackdown on Tiananmen Square pro-democracy protesters. The website was awarded a Reporters Without Borders (RSF) Cyberfreedom Prize in November 2016.
A few weeks after winning the award, Huang was detained. Three years later, he was sentenced to 12 years in jail for intentionally leaking state secrets to foreigners.
The news website has since been blocked in China, for reporting local corruption, human rights violations and other topics routinely censored in Chinese media.
Rights group Amnesty International has called Huang’s sentence “harsh and unjust.”
At 57, he has heart and kidney disease and high blood pressure. Advocates have voiced concern about the consequences of his continued imprisonment.
RSF has called on President Xi Jinping to “show mercy” and issue him a pardon.
Earlier this month, his 87-year old mother, Pu Wenqing, who is suffering from several chronic illnesses including diabetes and cancer, wrote a letter that has been circulating online.
In a recent letter titled “Last Words by Huang Qi’s Mother” she wrote “My purpose is just to see Huang Qi. I want to know, what is his situation in prison? How is his health? How is he treated?”
Pu suffers from diabetes and lung cancer, conditions likely worsened by the years of harassment she has endured from local authorities over her son’s work. In just the past few days, she has sought hospital care and indicated that she does not expect to live much longer.
Pu has campaigned tirelessly for her son’s release, for proper medical attention in prison, and for him to be represented by lawyers of his choice. She has committed no crimes, yet the Sichuan authorities have subjected her to relentless harassment. In November 2018, she wrote “If I am missing, injured, disabled, or dead, the entire responsibility should be borne by the authorities.”
In her recent letter, Pu said authorities’ surveillance of her is “very serious.” Government minders follow her wherever she goes, prohibit her from leaving the city, and keep her from speaking to the media or meeting lawyers.
Chinese authorities should end their breathtaking cruelty towards Pu Wenqiang before it’s too late. (Source: HRW)