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China: Call for Shi Tao Release on Medical Grounds

From: Reporters sans frontières (RSF),

La version française suit. The French version follows.

China - Call for Shi Tao's Release on Medical Grounds

Reporters Without Borders voiced concern today about the declining health of journalist Shi Tao and the conditions in his prison, calling for his release on medical grounds. Shi was sentenced to 10 years in prison in April 2005 on information provided by Yahoo!, which hosted his e-mail account.

Shi is being held in prison No. 1 in the central province of Hunan. It is on a small island near the city of Yuanjiang. His mother and brother are able to visit him once a month. He shares a cell with more than 10 other inmates and makes jewellery in a workshop of poor sanitary standards. His health has declined sharply in recent months. He has an ulcer, a heart ailment and skin problems caused by the dampness of his cell. And his family says his mental state has deteriorated.

The Wei Jingsheng Foundation has published a description of the prison by former inmate Chen Shaowen. He says the detainees hardly ever see the light of day. They begin working before dawn in dark workshops full of dust. Working in these conditions ends up "destroying their bodies, their souls, their spirit and their confidence," he says.

According to Chen, the political prisoners are the target of constant violence. Convicted criminals are put in charge of the workshops, on the principle of "set a thief to catch a thief." Intimidation and corruption are rife within the prison, and guards often confiscate the money sent to inmates by their families.

For more information on this case:


Reporters sans frontières s'inquiète des conditions de détention de Shi Tao, le journaliste chinois condamné à dix ans de prison, en avril 2005, sur la base d'informations fournies par Yahoo !, qui hébergeait son compte e-mail. L'organisation demande sa libération pour raisons médicales.

Shi Tao est détenu à la prison n°1 de la province du Hunan (Centre-Sud), sur une petite île près de la ville de Yuanjiang. Sa mère et son frère peuvent lui rendre visite une fois par mois. Le journaliste partage sa cellule avec plus d'une dizaine de prisonniers. Il travaille à la confection de bijoux dans des conditions sanitaires précaires. Sa santé s'est rapidement détériorée ces derniers mois. Il souffre notamment d'un ulcère, de troubles du c¦ur et de problèmes dermatologiques en raison de l'humidité de sa cellule. Selon ses proches, Shi Tao est psychologiquement très affaibli.

Le témoignage d'un ancien détenu de la prison n°1, Chen Shaowen, a été publié par la fondation Wei Jingsheng. Il indique que les prisonniers ne voient quasiment jamais la lumière du jour. Ils commencent à travailler avant le lever du soleil, dans des ateliers obscurs et envahis par la poussière. Dans de telles conditions, « ce travail revient à détruire leur corps et leur âme, leur esprit et leur confiance », raconte-t-il.

Toujours selon Chen Shaowen, les prisonniers politiques sont victimes de violences quotidiennes. La surveillance des ateliers est confiée à des criminels de droit commun, le principe étant « d'utiliser des criminels pour s'occuper de criminels ». L'intimidation et la corruption sont monnaie courante au sein de l'établissement, les gardes confisquant régulièrement l'argent envoyé par les familles des prisonniers.

Plus d'information sur cette affaire :

Julien Pain
Bureau Internet et libertés / Internet Freedom desk

Reporters sans frontières / Reporters Without Borders

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