【02/14 Case Updates】Huang Xueqin’s (“Sohpia”) Worrisome Health Condition
It has been over 500 days (17 months) since independent journalist and #MeToo activist Huang Xueqin (“Sohpia”) and Wang Jianbing were arbitrarily detained by Guangzhou Police under the charge of “inciting subversion of state power.” Huang’s friends and families still have no way of knowing about her conditions since she was detained incommunicado. Her self-appointed lawyer was forced to withdraw from the case and replaced by government-appointed lawyer(s), who has not communicated with Huang’s family and friends. During this period of time, we have collected information from multiple sources that confirm Huang’s condition, which are extremely worrisome. We hereby call for continued international as well as domestic attention and support to this case.
We have learned:
- Since the arrest, Huang has stopped menstruating for at least five months, and we don’t know if her condition has improved. Different sources confirm that during the early period of her detention, Huang suffered from missed periods for over five months due to hormonal imbalances. This is a medical condition called “secondary amenorrhea” or absent menstruation in adulthood despite not being pregnant or menopausal. Secondary amenorrhea is normally caused by malnutrition, extreme weight loss, severe physical fatigue, stress, and depression. This, thus, also strongly suggests that Huang is likely suffering from mental health problems apart from this worrisome physical malaise. These make us horrified and worried about her overall health condition. We don’t have more sources to confirm if Huang has received timely and appropriate treatment for her condition, nor do we know if her physical and mental symptoms have improved.
- During the first six months of her detention, Huang suffered from sudden weight loss; and in the past year, he also suffered from calcium deficiency, low blood pressure, low blood sugar, and lumbar (lower back) pain. We previously learned that Huang lost at least 5kg (11lbs) during the first six months of the detention. Given the fact that Huang only weighed less than 50kg (110lbs) before her detention, we are concerned about the health impact of her weight loss during the detention. Additionally, we learned that Huang suffered from severe calcium deficiency, low blood pressure, low blood sugar, and lumbar pain during the past year. The severe calcium deficiency is clearly a sign of premature osteoporosis due to “secondary amenorrhea” (usually a symptom that only occurs in postmenopausal women). Regarding the lumbar pain, We speculate that it is likely a sign of lumbar disc herniation connected to torturous interrogation methods for prolonged periods of time. The low blood pressure and low blood sugar are all indications that besides being malnourished, Huang is being put under enormous physical and mental stress as well as being deprived of rest. These physical symptoms strongly suggest that Huang has been suffering physical and mental abuses in the past 500 days. We are extremely worried about the irreversible and detrimental effects of these symptoms on Huang’s physical and mental being, if not treated in time or appropriately.
- Huang’s sleep was often interrupted and subjected to interrogations in the middle of the night. Different sources confirm that Huang was often woken up in the middle of the night for interrogation. During the interrogations, she was asked to repeatedly write down all of her life experiences. This is undoubtedly a vicious and vengeful attempt to break her spirit and to get her to plea guilty to the trumped up charges by subjecting her to mental torture as well as sleep deprivation. We strongly believe that these abusive interrogation methods are the main cause of all of the above mentioned physical and mental health symptoms.
Unfortunately, what we have learned is merely a fragment of Huang’s experience during the detention period. We have no way of further knowing about her health or her case, due to the fact that the government-appointed lawyer(s) remains unreachable by Huang’s families and friends. We are deeply saddened, worried, and infuriated by what we have learned about her health situation. In addition to the above information about Huang, both she and Wang have been subjected to solitary confinement for over five months and transferred to different detention centers multiple times without their families being notified of the changes. Furthermore, their case has been returned multiple times for supplementary investigation, their lawyers were forced or pressured to withdraw from representing them. Until now, Huang and Wang have been detained for over 500 days without trial. We believe that the police are still trying to break them and get them to plead guilty.
As Friends of Huang and Wang, we strongly condemn the unlawful and inhumane treatments of the two, and demand that the Guangzhou authorities:
- immediately carry out a comprehensive physical examination for Huang and Wang, and provide sufficient and necessary medical treatment for the physical and mental health symptoms that Huang and Wang have, timely and appropriately;
- immediately restore Huang and Wang’s access to communication, the legal counsel of their own choice, and the commissary money, as well as allow their families and friends to send money to them; and
- immediately drop all charges as well as unconditionally release Huang and Wang. Huang and Wang are being held incommunicado for over 500 days without trial for arbitrary charges, and this is against procedural due process that is guaranteed by the constitution of the PRC. Therefore, we demand the two to be immediately released.