Acne-picking and other bizarre “causes of death” in Chinese prisons

While it might be argued that a person is “lucky” to be sent to prison in a country where some 68 crimes (including gold and silver smuggling) are punishable by death, beating the firing squad in China is no guarantee of safety.

The prisons, it would seem, are just as dangerous as the courts. Take Li Qiaoming for example. He allegedly succumbed to injuries sustained in game of blind man’s bluff. Theoretically, picking at acne can expose a person to potentially fatal infections, so there is a remote possibility that is what killed Yu Weiping – and Chen Xujin could have indeed tripped and fallen to his death in a toilet.

An investigation is currently being carried out by the Zhejiang Daily into the large number of suspicious deaths in Chinese prisons that have been reported over the past 18 months – the above cases are among a collection that they have compiled and used to question the Detention Center Management Bureau of the Public Security Ministry.

In the case of Li, police claimed that his fatal injuries were the result of bumping into a while while enjoying a game blind man’s bluff with his fellow inmates at a a Puning County detention center.
It was in the detention centre of Puning County in Yunnan that Li was said by police to have suffered fatal injuries from bumping into a wall while playing blind man’s buff with fellow inmates. Yu Weiping’s acne-picking wounds were consistent with being stabbed repeatedly in the chest with a needle-like object. The doctor involved in the report of the toilet death later admitted that he had been coerced into making a corroborating statement.

Here are some more:

  • Police from the Danzhou Number One Detention Center on Hainan Island changed their initial statement that listed a 57-year-old man’s cause of death as “showering” and conceded that he had been beaten to death because he refused to remove his clothes and bathe.
  • Officers at in Jiujiang Detention Centre in Jiangxi are sticking to their story which claims that 20-year-old Li Wenyan “died after having a nightmare.”
  • Police at Fuqing Public Order Lock-up in Fujian maintain that a student’s death was the result of his improper sleeping position.
  • Wang Huixia of Shaanxi died after 20 hours of non-stop questioning because of “agitation and anxiety”
  • Police at Gong’an County lock-up in Jingzhou, Hubei are standing by the claim that an inmate died by “drowning in the face-washing basin”.

    A former director-general of the Detention Center Management bureau explained that most of the deaths were the result of beatings administered by police seeking to coerce confessions. ore when the “management authority in the centers is handed over to inmate enforcers”.

    Frightening as the situation may be, there is a possible benefit to the brazenness of the claims; it makes the phony reports pretty easy to spot – and in the event that the Chinese prison system saw real reform, it would make light work of bringing the perpetrators to justice. [Image; The Australian]


C.S. Magor is the editor-in-chief and a reporter at large for We Interrupt and Uberreview. He currently resides in the Japanese countryside approximately two hours from Tokyo - where he has spent the better part of a decade testing his hypothesis that Japan is neither as quirky nor as interesting as others would have you believe.
One Comment
  • Brightex
    8 November 2010 at 9:19 am
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    The photo is the Victoria Prison built by the British in Hong Kong.

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