Huang Qi: The activist who reported human rights violations

Huang Qi, the creator of China’s first human rights news website, will spend the next 12 years in prison for exposing government corruption.

In the eyes of the Chinese government, Huang intentionally gave government secrets to foreigners. In reality, Huang published a scan of a document that exposed Chinese government misconduct on his website, 64 Tianwang. The Chinese government retroactively classified the document as “top secret” and immediately detained Huang in 2016, denying him access to a lawyer for 10 months.

Award-winning activism

Huang launched his website in 1998. He originally spread information about missing Chinese citizens with the hope of locating them through collective online effort. The platform eventually evolved into a place for Huang and website affiliates to report on human rights violations committed by the Chinese government.

In 2004, Huang was awarded the Reporters Without Borders Cyber-Freedom Prize for his work uncovering corruption.

But as Huang garnered more international attention for his work as a journalist, the Chinese government took notice. This sentence is his third imprisonment and by far the worst.

Possible death sentence

“The imprisonment of Huang Qi underscores China’s continued repression of human rights,” the State Department said in a statement, “and fundamental freedoms, including free speech.”

Huang, 56, suffers from long-term health issues, including kidney disease, heart disease and high blood pressure. Supporters worry that the 12-year sentence will mean that he will die in prison, especially as the Chinese government denies him the crucial medical care that will keep him alive.

“We urge the Chinese government to uphold its international commitments related to fair trial guarantees and the rule of law,” the statement continued. “We call on China to immediately release Mr. Huang, and to allow him access to his family, medical care, and legal counsel as soon as possible.”

This article was previously published on September 19, 2019.