Chinese Engineer Huang Qi Released after Serving Entire Prison Sentence
June 13, 2011
On June 10, 2011, 48-year-old Chinese computer engineer and human rights advocate Huang Qi was released from prison, in Dazhu City, after serving his three-year sentence in its entirety. In press interviews he said that his health has declined significantly because he was denied medical treatment throughout his imprisonment for illnesses he acquired during a previous imprisonment, from 2000 to 2005. Mr. Huang explained that, as a result of police beatings, he sustained injuries to his head that led to “hydrocephalus and brain atrophy” as well as heart disease. On June 10, he was escorted by eight police in two vans to his mother’s house in his hometown, Neijiang, and was warned not to communicate with other dissidents. Given that a number of dissidents released in the last year have been placed under house arrest, along with their families, his wife fears that restrictions will be placed on them as well.
Huang Qi was arrested on June 10, 2008, for trying to help parents—whose children were killed when their school collapsed during the May 12, 2008, earthquake in Sichuan province—to request an official investigation. He ran a small organization called the Tianwang Human Rights Center and had just posted an article on the Center’s website on behalf of the parents detailing their demands. They were seeking compensation for their children’s death, an investigation into the construction of the school, and accountability for those found to be responsible. Mr. Huang had also documented on his website what he observed at the scenes of the collapsed schools and delivered food and rescue equipment. He was held incommunicado for three months following his arrest, during which time he was subjected to long hours of questioning. In February 2009 he was charged with “unlawfully holding documents classified as highly secret.” In a one-day trial in late 2009, Mr. Huang was convicted; his appeal in February 2010 was denied.
The CHR appealed to the Chinese authorities for Huang Qi’s release from prison numerous times. Given that his arrest was about two months prior to the start of the XXIX Olympic Games in Beijing, the committee also wrote to the president of the International Olympic Committee, Dr. Jacques Rogge, and to companies sponsoring the Olympic Games to express its concern about Huang Qi and other Chinese dissidents being arrested in the weeks prior to the games under the pretext of security needs. The CHR asked them to raise this issue with the Chinese authorities.