Danny Cancian, a 46 year old New Zealand businessman, recently uploaded a video in which he silently displays cards telling the viewers the brutal treatment and violence he suffered in a Chinese prison.
Cancian was jailed in China for five years for killing a man in a restaurant fight in 2008, and also had to pay $90,000 to his victim’s family. According to Fairfax NZ:
Mr Cancian was in China when the manslaughter incident happened because he had a business selling shower chairs he had invented for stroke victims. The chairs were made in China.
The fight happened in a family restaurant in a town outside the provincial capital of Guangzhou, where he was eating with a workmate and his Chinese translator.
He said his workmate was in the toilet when two men grabbed his translator, and another three attacked Mr Cancian.
He recognised them from two days before when one of them had shoulder barged him outside the same restaurant, he said.
“I said, ‘You should say excuse me.’ [He] tried to attack me, and security stopped him.”
He was punched in the face in the second attack, he said.
“I threw one of them to the ground, I thought it was all over . . . Then one of them smashed me in the back of the head with a chair.”
After that, he kicked the man on the ground in the face.
The man suffered a brain bleed and died later in hospital. Mr Cancian was charged with manslaughter, and ordered to pay his victim’s family $90,000.
In the video, Cancian said prisoners were forced to work, and they would be beaten harshly if they refused or slacked off. Over 40 prisoners had to share one cell. Sometimes the room would overflow with human waste because the cell didn’t have toilet. And the prisoners had little chance to contact their loved ones.
After Cancian returned to New Zealand, he set up a website called “This Is The Real China” to urge the New Zealand government to sign the Prison Transfer Treaty (which enables foreign prisoners to be transported to their home country to serve out their sentence). But his petition was declined.
“Prisoners have the right to be treated with humanity, dignity and respect while in detention,” according to the United Nations Human Rights Committee. A spokeswoman for the Chinese embassy in Wellington, commenting on Cancian’s case, said: “The issue of basic rights for inmates is an important component of overall human rights in China. China has joined international human rights conventions that require signatory nations to fulfil relevant obligations that include the protection of rights for inmates.”