TIME China

Chinese Lawyers Say They Were Tortured, Told They Would Be Fed to Dogs ‘Like Kim’s Uncle’

Foreign journalists interview Chinese rights lawyer Jiang Tianyong at a gate of the Chaoyang hospital in Beijing in Beijing on May 2, 2012 Mark Ralston—AFP/Getty Images

Three Chinese lawyers were released earlier this week after spending more than two weeks in a detention center in northeast China for "using an evil cult to endanger society," during which they were allegedly tortured

You know the story about Kim Jong Un feeding his uncle to a pack of dogs? It was not true. But that apparently has not stopped Chinese security personnel from using it to terrorize detainees.

Three Chinese lawyers who were whisked away by plainclothes police last month say they were tortured and threatened. Tang Jitian, Wang Cheng, and Jiang Tianyong were detained while protesting a “black jail” holding practitioners of Falun Gong, a spiritual movement banned by Beijing. The trio told the New York Times they were hung from the ceiling and beaten. Guards also threatened, variously, to bury them alive, take out their kidneys and feed them to dogs “like Kim Jong Un’s uncle,” they said.

Tang, Wang and Jiang were released from a detention center in Heilongjiang province, in China’s northeast, on April 6, after spending 15 days in prison for “using an evil cult to endanger society.” In 1999, Beijing declared Falun Gong an “evil cult” and effectively banned the movement.

Rights groups including Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International joined Chinese activists in calling for an investigation.

“The torture of human-rights lawyers in police custody isn’t just an assault against the individuals concerned, but also against the legal profession,” said Sophie Richardson, Human Rights Watch’s China director, in a statement. “Without an independent investigation and accountability for the abuse, the government’s rule-of-law rhetoric rings very hollow.”

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