Chinese Writer, Activist Critically Ill After Three Years In Prison

By Li Jingyi  11/07/2010

After 3 years in prison, Chinese poet, freelance writer, and activist, Li Hong, is in a critical condition. His wife and friends are calling for help from the international community.


 Mr.Li Hong

Li Hong (original name Zhang Jianhong) from Hangzhou City in China’s Zhejiang Province was released on bail for medical treatment on June 5. He was directly transferred to the Ningbo Number Two People’s Hospital and admitted to its intensive care unit.

Poet persecuted in prison

Li was the founding editor of the popular Zhejiang news and literary website Aegean Sea. On March 19, 2007, he was sentenced to six years in prison for “inciting subversion of state power” for articles he wrote criticizing the regime’s human rights record in advance of the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

He was later diagnosed with muscular dystrophy but was denied medical parole. He suffered from severe muscle atrophy and lost function of his arms. He is now at risk of paralysis, according to a report by the advocacy group Human Rights in China.

Voice of America
reported that Patrick Poon, the vice president of Independent Chinese Pen Center, said that there is reason to believe that Li has been mistreated in prison. “His health was not this poor when he entered the prison”, Patrick said, “so how come now he has to get nutrients intravenously? We are worried that he has received inhumane treatment while in prison.”

Li’s wife Dong Min has worked hard to seek medical parole for Li in the past three years and Li himself has applied many times to Zhejiang Provincial Justice Department, but all were denied. It was not until June 5, 2010 when Li’s condition seriously deteriorated ,that he was allowed to seek medical treatment outside the prison.

When contacted, Dong Min was caring for Li in the Ningbo hospital. She said, “Li Hong has already been transferred out of prison and is in Ningbo hospital. He needs someone to watch over him all the time. The doctor said repeatedly that he needs peace and quiet. We also continuously told him so. I cannot answer the phone when I’m by his side, and he cannot be left alone. He now relies on a ventilator to sustain life and we cannot let him shake or move his body. He is now awake and suffers excruciating pain.”

When asked if Li is free, Dong dodged the topic and said, “Li needs someone to watch over him and cannot be left alone. I am sorry, but I have to go back in.”

Appeal for help

According to a report by China Free Press, when Dong saw her husband on the morning of June 5, Li could no longer speak due to respiratory failure, and had to be kept alive by machine. He was unconscious and could not communicate with his family. As soon as Dong was done with the formality of getting medical parole for Li, she notified Dr. Yang Jianli, a Tiananmen dissident and Harvard Kennedy School fellow who had been concerned about Li’s case and had made various rescue attempts. She expressed gratitude to friends at home and abroad, who had shown long-term concern to Li.

Dr. Yang donated US $300 to Li’s family and called for attention and quick action to donate and help Li; otherwise Li may not be able to continue medical care due to financial constraints. At present, Li’s family is destitute. Dong has no job and is also ill. For the past few years, they have lived on the pension of their parents who are in their 80's. The only working person in their family is their daughter, who works as a low-level clerk in a private company. It is impossible for her to afford the treatment cost for Li.

Yang said that Li had been sent to a forced labor camp after the 1989 democratic movement and has always been a dissident writer. In 2006, under the tense political atmosphere with renowned human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng being arrested, Li stood up to speak up for the Falun Gong members being persecuted and to defend Gao. “Now his life is in danger”, Yang said, “in any case, we want him to feel the help and warmth from friends. I hope that all can lend a helping hand as soon as possible to help Li Hong.”

Prior to being sentenced, Li Hong had published on the internet several articles regarding
live organ harvesting of Falun Gong practitioners, an article on the Nine Commentaries on the Communist Party (a series of editorials published by The Epoch Times in late 2004 that reveals the true nature of the Communist Party), and several articles supporting human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng.