Torture by police in Lushan County, Henan, led to the death of suspect Wang Yahui. This recent admission by the provincial public security department shattered the earlier ridiculous cover-up. The chief of the Lushan County Public Security Bureau has been ordered to resign, and the responsible deputy bureau chief and the head of the criminal investigations unit were sacked, both facing additional disciplinary measures pending investigation of responsibility. The Pingdingshan Public Security Bureau’s deputy chief in charge of criminal investigations and the officer responsible for detention center management are also facing disciplinary measures. Four police officers involved were sent to the procuratorate on suspicion of torture. Earlier, when the deceased’s family members publicly reported to the media that they discovered serious injuries all over his body, the local public security bureau claimed that Wang had “died after drinking hot water” during interrogation.
Wang Yahui is not the first victim to have had his life taken away by torture, and he probably will not be the last. However, it seems as if cases like this, in which police arbitrarily snuff out human lives in confined spaces and then give increasingly ridiculous explanations, have been occurring with some frequency. There is a barbarism and darkness about these cases, reflected both in the boundlessness of the methods used to extract confessions and the utter stupidity of the mendacity.
Analysts mostly view the origins of torture from the perspective of law enforcement agencies, seeing its cause in the obsession for confessions or pointing to the lack of effective supervision over judicial powers, including the police, that makes it impossible to check these kinds of “work-related crimes.” These views are not mistaken, as even the silent corpses of these Wang Yahuis can confirm. The mechanisms leading to torture are so simple as to be scary, but the problem is not simply with the agents or institutions of law enforcement; the problem is also that citizens, when faced with police and other legal authority, usually find themselves in a position of [having] inferior rights.