It was prison staff’s reaction to his sarcastic comment.

Performance artist Chen Yunfei criticises China’s Communist Party in his art and calls himself a “beast tamer”. By beasts he means the country’s authorities.

He was detained in March 2015 after the artist has visited the grave of a student killed by soldiers during the Tiananmen Square protests in 1989. He swept the grave as part of a performance to keep alive the memory of the tragedy and its victims. The authorities charged the artist with “picking quarrels and provoking trouble”, the article actively used to prosecute activists and dissidents and suppress peaceful protests and freedom of expression.

The investigation lasted more than two years. Yunfei was sentenced to four years in prison this April. He was tortured for violating prison rules and shackled for ten days for refusing to say the standard greetings to prison officials. Instead, he sarcastically shouted “Our leaders are great!”, Voice Project reports.

Chen Yunfei has been persecuted by the authorities for years before his arrest as he often refers to the Tiananmen massacre in his art, the topic strictly censored in China. Ill-treatment of political prisoners is a routine in the country, human rights groups report.

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