Imprisoned Chinese Lawyer Says Guards Choked Him, Threatened to Burn Him in Oven

Mar 08, 2017 09:57 AM EST

An incarcerated human rights lawyer from China's central Hunan province has revealed that he has suffered "all kinds of severe abuse" while in prison and said that if he ever confesses to any crimes, it's because he can no longer endure such torture.

In a letter shared by persecution watchdog China Aid, lawyer Xie Yang wrote that he has been subjected to horrific treatment at the hands of prison guards in order to coerce him to confess to his "crimes".

"I have been suffering from all kinds of severe abuse and torture since I was arrested on July 11, 2015. Nevertheless, I have never pled guilty, because I am not guilty.

The lawyer continued to clarify that he will only comply if the torture becomes too much for him to bear or authorities bait him with bail and a reunion with his loved ones.

"If someday I admit any guilt, whether in written form or voice recording, it would definitely not be out of my own will," he writes. "Both my family and I are under immense pressure now as the officials ask me to confess and stop talking about my torture."

China Aid notes that Xie's lawyer, Chen Jiangang published the "Transcript of Interviews with Lawyer Xie Yang," revealing that his client was repeatedly dragged away from cameras and beaten, forced to sit on stacked chairs until his legs swelled and it became impossible to walk, denied water, made to inhale cigarette smoke until he choked and suffocated, and subjected to other acts of torment. Officials also threatened to place him in an oven and told him, "Xie Yang, if we want to kill you, it would be very simple. Killing you is the same as killing an ant!"

However, China has denied such claims and launched a propaganda campaign claiming that these reports were "fabricated."

The Communist party has expressed discomfort with the growing influence of Christianity in the country, and hundreds of Christians, including pastors, lawyers, and activists, have been arrested for speaking out against the ongoing persecution. Today, many of them are still detained. Human rights attorneys who provide legal support to churches in China have also been subjected to police brutality and coerced into confessing on television that they have disturbed the peace, and jeopardized national security.

The ongoing targeting of Christians prompted Open Doors USA top place the country at 39th on its World Watch List of countries where believers face the most persecution.