Drawings of Police Torture Seize China’s Attention

A man wrongly convicted in a shooting death hired an artist to depict scenes of the police tactics he said were used to force him to confess to a crime he did not commit.

Comments: 45

  1. In the absence of prosecutor restraint there is no justice. The kinds of people who represent the state in criminal matters are zealous in their actions. They believe they are protecting the general public. Only strict rules and regulations that are rigidly enforced can prevent the kinds of behaviors outlined in this article. China is an ancient country, but it is ruled by communist ideologues, and communism is really a very new secular religion. Of course no torture could take place in America, could it?

  2. One of my oldest friends came here from China in 1980, fleeing a childhood filled with years in a labor camp (the girls were guilty of being urban and having parents who were landlords; Mao hated landlords) where girls were raped and otherwise abused, and a later stint in prison (for the high crime of purchasing a book on western art history). Given her experiences, and the historical fact that Mao killed more of his own people than Hitler and Stalin combined (in the 1970s not the 1940s) based on sham trials or no trials at all, why should we be surprised that there is police abuse in China? Starting with Nixon the USA began to whitewash reality vis-a-vis China to create a perception that is grossly inaccurate.

  3. These are our allies...

  4. Have the Chinese been reading John Yoo?

    If it's illegal to do it to a dog, cat, or even a rat, why isn't it illegal to do it to a human?

  5. And the Chinese governement allowed these pictures out with the story?
    Well, it's a start towards full disclosure that can leads to reforms for human rights there.

  6. sounds and looks like Abu Ghraib

  7. Ai Wei Wei, please help this guy out.

  8. Both the Ministry of Public Security (the police) and the Ministry of Justice (the courts) are under the ultimate constitutional authority of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China. As a practical matter neither of these ministries is independent of Central Committee political dictates, policies, and influence. Until the Central Committee issues and enforces an order that torture be eliminated from the detention system there will be no reduction in police brutality. It is extremely telling that the Chief Supreme Court Justice of China issued a statement that lower courts should “reproach” themselves for allowing wrongful convictions to happen but makes no statement suggesting that the Minister of Public Security (Guo Shengkun) should be reproached for allowing his officers to torture confessions out of prisoners. It would be helpful to know what the source is of the reported “great pressure” on the police to solve capital crimes. Is the source of this pressure from higher-ups in Public Security, Justice, or some other ministry? Finally, it is interesting to note that the types of torture described in this article resemble those coming out of Guantanamo and other US Government facilities.

  9. Shockingly depraved. This even tops Abu Ghraib and Bagram.

  10. Some of what was done to Mr. Liu looks more like enhanced interrogation.

  11. It would be interesting to know if these tortures are more often applied to men.

    I suspect if it were women who were being tortured, feminist would sound the alarm and the newspapers would make a specific point that WOMEN ARE BEING TORTURED:

    I also suspect that in China, it is mostly (or nearly exclusively) men. But, instead, we will only hear it happens to PEOPLE, diluting the true nature of misandry and enabling feminist self-indulgence .

  12. Having lived in China for several years and having read much about the darker side (i.e., true nature) of its legal system, this news doesn't surprise me. But it does horrify me.

    I feel lucky to not live under such a system.

  13. This is detestable and sickening. Reminds me of the pictures from the North Korea camps published a few years back. As China rapidly grows in Industrial and economic might, it will do well to look inwards and progress on the cultural/human front as well. This is not representative of one of the biggest economies of the world. China runs the risk of imploding if its legal systems do not mirror the economic opportunities it offers.

  14. Shanxi is one of the more backward provinces in China with a history of corruption and failures in governance. There was a child labour scandal there recently. Just as in the US during the civil rights movement in the 1960s when local police in the US South often operated as rogue operations thumbing their nose at Washington many local governments in the more backwards parts of China do not compare favourably with police and governance in the more developed coastal regions and large cities. Of justice in these less developed regions and adherence to the laws and rules laid out by the central government it is often said, "the mountains are high and the emperor is far away". That said the publication of the images of police brutality and the lawsuit are part of an ongoing improvement in policing and the operation of the justice system across China. China despite the wealth and development so evident in its first tier regions encompassing hundreds of millions of individuals remains in the 2nd and 3rd tier comprising even more individuals very much a developing country. Progress as we see from the US and global experience takes time.

  15. Contemptible.

    This is the society many U.S. business leaders say we should emulate?

    Not that the U.S. comes to this with clean hands. The sleep depro drawing could have been made at Guantanamo, or a CIA "black site." Or Chicago, in the 70s.

  16. If this is true, and I have no reason to doubt it is, I hope Mr. Liu receives the full monetary compensation he is asking for.

    It is another example of those in positions of power exercising that power to the detriment of the people they are hired to protect. It is important to understand that this kind of abuse is sadly universal but wholly preventable by mandating methods of transparency, like utilizing video cameras during arrests and interrogations.

  17. irrefutable proof that their hackers got a copy our "enhanced interrogation" handbook.

  18. the power of art is inestimable. may truth prevail everywhere.

  19. Between this and China's undeclared war on the U.S. for information that they have been stealing for years, I would ask the next Constitution-abiding President to break off all diplomatic AND business relations with China.

    Just as with the Islamic terrorist states, we can talk to them once they decide to act worthy of the current millennium.

  20. Abuse of power is a universal impulse and moral restraints are easily eroded when there are insufficient limits on police, or armies for that matter. If ungoverned, they will predictably use the force they wield to obtain results, whether just to not. Our own founding fathers understood this concept, as it applied to kings. They made restraining state power a central element of the government that we still rely on to correct injustice against individuals and groups. Liu's acquittal and the appearance of these sketches, gives hope that Chinese justice and governance can be reformed. But it will require the CCP to recognize that its monopoly on power is an impediment to sustainable reform and long term stability.

  21. Truly disgusting behavior by overzealous Chinese investigators. I'll never understand how you can treat another human being with so little regard. I hope Mr. Liu and his family get the help they need to move past this.

    Unfortunately police and prosecutors around the world (including here in the US) often force suspects to make false confessions either through physical force, as was the case with Jon Burge in Chicago, or through lying and manipulation.

    At least the Chinese courts are willing to acknowledge they have a problem with wrongful convictions. Too many Americans are in jail for crimes they did not commit because our justice system makes it almost impossible to clear your name once you've been convicted. In many cases prosecutors will never admit that they have made a mistake even in the face of overwhelming evidence, including DNA. Unfortunately very few Americans seem to care.

  22. I find the drawings instantly more poignant due to the fact that I just read Cheng Guangchen's "Barefoot Lawyer," the story of a blind activist in China, who details his own brutal persecution by authorities. Yet these drawings are really "up there" as art. They are comparable to the great early modernists, whose purposefully naive and amateurish work showed that skill and technical realism are not the be all and end all in art.

  23. And this is a country that we want to reward with a Free Trade agreement that will put more American jobs on the line and impact the confidence and safety of our nations food supply. I don't get it.

  24. The almost benign looking facial expressions of the torturing officials makes them look idiotic. Maybe a better word is robotic. For example, to look at the face of the policeman piercing fingertips for up to two hours, you'd think he was giving a manicure. Renwang is channeling Goya illustrating Prof. Zimbardo's famous Stanford Prison Experiment.

  25. Chinese police use torture against suspects. Americans police shoot and kill countless unarmed people. I can't decide which is worse.

  26. Feel terrible for that poor man. Those medieval torture techniques are horrifying.

  27. Maybe he was a suspected terrorist, and the Chinese simply looked to the U.S. for moral cover (and technical expertise) on how to deal with it properly...

  28. These drawings share a striking resemblance to ones that appear in the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum in Cambodia.

  29. Our Abu Graib camp for prisoners was somewhat similar.

  30. The anguish I feel after reading this story prevents me from making a rational comment.
    That poor man!

  31. Future generations will look back upon Western ideals of civility, human rights,
    Democratic values and aspirations as a remarkably unique period. China walks to a different drummer.

  32. For a people so preoccupied with public face and insisting on respect....common actions like this, and the brutal claiming of an entire international sea by destroying major reef systems and evicting nearby fishermen seem unworthy and hypocritical. If the fact that these are even being seen means someone is focusing on changing behavior versus controlling message and access, that would be good. Not holding my breath.

  33. Where is the United Nations in stopping and preventing this kind of barbarism? Too few voices speak up about this.

  34. In the US, interrogations are now videotaped. China must adopt the same procedures. Police the world over seem to lose their sense of decency and are overwhelmed by the power they wield. Governments everywhere must be vigilant to keep these apparently baser aspects of our nature in check.

  35. We're always hearing about how China is destined to replace the U.S. as the world's next superpower, with its huge manufacturing infrastructure and ability to build the world's biggest high-speed rail network as we let ideologues threaten to destroy the Ex-Im Bank and struggle to build a single line.

    But stories like this show that, with a legal and criminal justice system still stuck in the Dark Ages, with no recourse for victims and little chance for journalists to investigate abuses, China is in no way prepared to lead the world, and any world that it did lead would be a very scary place.

  36. I saw this on Weibo over the weekend and got the general jyst, just based upon the images. I'm glad to see it here and be able to read about it - now I understand more fully what happened to this man. I hope that the very public nature his story, if nothing else, will prevent any retaliation.

  37. This example is another reason why the US should never allow torture as a part of any interrogation program. Evil begets evil and this is pretty bad.

  38. Power tends to corrupt. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. Lord Acton

  39. Very sad. Such a big loss for him after having to go through this horrible torture!!

  40. The plasticized bodies of prisoners sold and displayed as "science" in places like Toledo, Ohio are a grim warning that we have not done enough to fight totalitarian terror. We must stop the great wall of silence and cry out against human rights violations. The consequences of collaboration are the impact of systematic loss of all that America stands for...Constitution Day is September 17...a date well worth celebrating.

  41. China dream look so beautiful in these drawings.

  42. As horrifying as this treatment is by the CCP, the Falun Gong practitioners in China are treated even worse!

  43. They aren't doing anything the Chicago Police Department hasn't been doing for years in their Homan Square black site .. http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/feb/24/chicago-police-detain-ame...

    What business does America have criticizing any government for torture?

    Those who once professed to uphold international standards of humanity became torturers, and they are all still employed at the top levels of American government, academia, 'justice' and medicine.

    Who will stand up for the international rule of law now?

  44. This is not an article to criticize the Chinese Government. In fact the story cites the state run online publication "The Paper", based in Shanghai as its source. It's more of a report on how the Chinese government is cracking down on false justice than a criticism of how the country's police conducted their business (although the bias bleeds through, which is understandable given the terrible acts depicted in the pictures). Don't be so hasty in jumping to conclusions.

  45. Best wishes and support for Mr Liu, and for the man who drew the drawings.