Man deported from China smuggles notes from Dong-guan prison
Three days after Chijioke Obioha, a 38-year-old Nigerian, was executed in Singapore for drug trafficking, The Guardian has received a prison note smuggled out of Dong-guan prison in China by a source, which gave graphic details of the plights of over 2,000 Nigerians languishing in the Chinese prison.
Obioha was hanged in Changi Prison early on Friday morning alongside a Malaysian national, who was convicted on separate drugs offenses.
He was arrested in April 2007 after being found in possession of more than 2.6 kilogrammes of cannabis. The quantity surpassed the 500 grammes threshold that triggers the automatic presumption of trafficking under Singaporean law.
At the weekend, a fresh deportee from China, who had a brief stint in the Dong-guan Prison and managed to hide dozens of prison notes scribbled on tissue papers in his anus, said the prison facility alone where he was held for over three months had more than 2,000 Nigerians detained for various reasons, mostly drug-related.
According to him, many Nigerians have been incapacitated owing to the daily torture meted out to them by prison officials, while a lot more are on death row waiting for the hangman.
“One of the most commonly forms of torture is the shocking treatment where inmates are given continuous shocking from an electric device for up to two hours. When going through this procedure, most of us urinate and defecate on our pants. Some people, who have spent some time there have developed brain damage or some form of mental problems,” he said.
Excerpts of the letter read: “Dear fellow citizens of Nigeria, this is the voice of your compatriots suffering in chinese prison. We have been looking for an opportunity to make our plights known to the public, but God is so kind, one of us is being released now. This is why we are using him as our contact to the outside world.
“Many of us have a very heavy sentences of death and life imprisonment. Some of us have spent over 15 years in prison. We want our home government to come to our aid. We are being treated like animals, mostly Nigerians and other Africans.
“We are tortured daily with electric device. The worst part is that it is our fellow prisoners officials use to carry out this torture. When we ask why they do this to us, they say it is because we are blacks, our government don’t care for us and our government can’t do anything to them.
“The only reason many of us have not committed suicide is the hope of being transferred some day to our home country. Some countries such as Ethopia, Senegal, Iran, Jordan, Colombia and Yemen have started taking their citizens back home and we believe the Nigerian embassy is fully aware of our plights but has refused to take any action.
“We are made to work long hours in factory every day without any salary being paid to us. Yet, we are not well-fed. The only thing left for them to do is to exterminate us or put us in the gas chamber just as the Nazis did to the Jewish people.”
An online report on Dong-guan’s prison system in 2013 claimed that of the 5,000 inmates in the jail on Xinzhou Island in Dong-guan’s Shijie Village, there are about 1,500 foreign nationals from 53 countries. Most of them are there for drug-related crimes.
Also, according to another news report on the Dong-guan prison, electrocution, beatings and suicide are part of everyday life.
Danny Cancian, a New Zealand national, was released from the jail last year, and was quoted in an article as saying for the four years he spent locked up in Dong-guan, a stint during which he didn’t see the sun or the stars, “there were people hanging themselves every week. They had to take all the wire clothe lines out of the cells,” he said.
Based on his account, six days of every week, prisoners would be marched at 5:00a.m. to a factory next door to the prison — after a breakfast of rice water — where they would work until 8:00p.m..