In July 2015, China orchestrated a nationwide sweep that was known as the 709 Crackdown. Two-hundred and fifty human-rights lawyers were arrested in effort to humiliate China’s most notable protectors of human rights. Since then, some have been released, and they are sharing their stories of the horrific torture they experienced whilst in Chinese imprisonment. Many of those imprisoned are assumed to be Christians, and they bring light to the violations of human rights the Chinese government are breaking.
‘It is truly ‘nine deaths, one life,’ ” my friend Li Heping said, quoting a Chinese idiom to mean he narrowly escaped death. “There were times that I wanted to commit suicide. I survived because of my Christian faith, the courageous advocacy of my wife and the attention of the international community.”
Mr. Li was describing to me the sadistic torture he endured at the hands of Chinese authorities. He was arrested, along with more than 250 other human-rights lawyers, on July 10, 2015 as part of a nationwide sweep that has come to be known as the 709 Crackdown. More than a campaign of intimidation, it’s part of a concerted, coordinated effort to break and humiliate China’s most prominent defenders of human rights.
Despite promises to develop a rule of law, President Xi Jinping’s regime has sought to eviscerate China’s network of human-rights lawyers and rights advocates, viewing their peaceful efforts at legal reform as a national-security threat. Mr. Xi has reinstituted the Maoist practice of televised public confession and embraced a system of torture so horrific it demands an international response.
In addition to solitary confinement in frigid cells, beatings, electric shocks, sleep deprivation and being chained in stress positions, many of those detained during the 709 Crackdown are testifying that they were also drugged with large amounts of unknown substances. Mr. Li, for instance, said he was “diagnosed” with high blood pressure and forced to take 6 pills a day for nearly two years. Mr. Li’s wife, Wang Qiaoling, provided testimony about this earlier this month to U.S. Representative Chris Smith, the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Global Human Rights.