Huang Qi has been in prison awaiting trial since 10 June 2008 for having been sufficiently courageous to defend bereaved families seeking an explanation concerning the death of their children.
Huang Qi, who is the president of a human rights organisation, already spent four years behind bars between 2001 and 2005. At that time he was arrested for "subversion" because he had published on the internet a list of people imprisoned following the military repression of demonstrators in Tiananmen Square on 4 June 1989.
Despite having been subjected to torture and abuse in prison, upon his release in June 2005, Huang Qi courageously resumed his highly sensitive activities to bring to light human rights violations perpetrated in his country. He defended, among others, members of the Falun Gong spiritual movement, who are violently repressed, and also the rights of the Uyghur people, who have been severely repressed in the province of Xinjiang in northwest China.
In May 2008, following the earthquake which left hundreds of thousands dead or injured in his native Sichuan province, Huang Qi assisted five families whose children had died when their schools collapsed. It appears that the region’s school buildings were disproportionately affected by the earthquake, causing the death of thousands of children owing to serious construction errors linked to negligence and the corruption of local authorities.
Today, survivors and victims’ relatives who are asking for an investigation and access to justice are subject to harassment and reprisals, and some have even been arbitrarily detained in "black jails" in order to discourage and silence them.
Like Huang Qi, other activists and courageous lawyers who have dared to help these families despite warnings from the authorities are paying the price for their actions.
According to our information, Huang Qi is currently in a very poor state of health after being maltreated and denied the medical care he requires.