Police arresting activists at Democracy wall for selling printed transcripts of Wei's trial as throngs of perspective buyers look one. November 1979. (AP)

During his decade and a half in prison, Wei Jingsheng has staged several hunger strikes. His colleague Liu Qing, who has also been imprisoned in China as an "enemy of the people," describes what it means to "go on a hunger strike" in a Chinese prison:

"On the sixth evening of a hunger strike I undertook at Weinan Number Two Prison in Shaanxi province, the prison police ordered a dozen or so other prisoners to use handcuffs and rope to tie me to a special metal chair. Some of the prisoners lifted my legs in the air while kneading and pressing down on my stomach, saying it was to keep me from using qigong ("chee-gung") breathing techniques to resist a feeding tube."

"Another prisoner squeezed my throat tight and pinched my nose shut so that I was forced to open my mouth in order to gasp for breath. A prison doctor then stuck a metal brace in my mouth, twisting it open so wide that the skin on the corners of my mouth ripped open. He then clamped a pair of metal pliers onto my tongue, pulling it way out of my mouth before sliding a length of tubing into my esophagus."

"After he had funneled a salty broth through the tube and into my stomach, the floor was covered with pools of blood and broth and my mouth was a numb and swollen mound of raw flesh. One of the prison guards even laughed at me and said: "We can take care of things if you don't eat, but we can't guarantee your comfort."

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