China's Communist Party has launched its biggest anti-corruption campaign in years, under pressure from an increasingly prosperous and demanding public. However, the party's methods for extracting confessions expose its 85 million members and their close associates to the risk of abuse. Experts estimate at least several thousand people are secretly detained every year for weeks or months under a system that exists outside the law.
Party experts acknowledge that the detention is legally problematic, but say it's necessary to root out corruption.
Here are excerpts from four on-the-record accounts by party members in Hunan to The Associated Press, along with response from the party.
Zhou, land bureau director for the city of Liling, said he was detained for 184 days. He said he was deprived of sleep and food, nearly drowned, whipped with wires and forced to eat excrement. He added that interrogators broke his left leg.
"It was a living hell," he said. "It was worse than being a pig or a dog."
A Liling party official said provincial authorities were investigating the case. Local anti-graft officials on a Hunan online forum in February last year denied Zhou was tortured, saying he injured himself by slipping in the bathroom.
Wang, party secretary of the industrial park in Ningyuan county, said local party investigators rounded up 17 of his associates. Wang said he himself was held for 313 days, not allowed to talk, kicked, slapped, and made to stand and kneel for hours.
"I thought I would die," he said. "I've worked for more than 20 years for the party....It is unacceptable. I had never imagined this would happen to me."
A Ningyuan party official said investigations was carried out in a "civilized manner" and no one was tortured.
Xiao, Wang Qiuping's deputy at the Ningyuan county industrial park, said he was held for 208 days in total. Xiao's wife and uncle were also taken in for questioning for days.
Xiao said he was hooded, handcuffed and shackled and then beaten by an interrogator who went by the nickname Tang the Butcher. He said water was poured down his nose and metal clips used to pinch sensitive parts of his body.
"Inside, you are like a small ant, anyone can crush you," he said. "You have absolutely no freedom. You have no hope. You have no future....Even the right to cry is taken from you."
The Ningyuan official said nobody was tortured.