Human Rights in China (HRIC) has learned that Shanghai petitioner Liu Xinjuan has been forcibly admitted to a psychiatric hospital after being detained in a roundup of petitioners while Shanghai’s People’s Congress and Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference were in session.
Sources in China told HRIC that Liu was one of a number of petitioners detained by police on January 16 when she turned up at Shanghai’s Jing’an District Park, where petitioners had arranged to gather before proceeding to the congressional sessions at the Sino-Soviet Friendship Building. Sources say that three Public Security officers, including one with badge number 041525, forced Liu into a police vehicle and transported her to the Qibao Township Dispatch Station in Shanghai’s Minhang District. Around 10:00 that night, sources say, police officer 041525 and several others took Liu bound and gagged to the Minhang District Beiqiao Psychiatric Hospital. Liu’s son, Feng Liangxi, visited Liu at the mental hospital and reported that Liu’s body and face were covered with bruises and wounds, and that her left hand was immobile as a result of injury.
Liu Xinjuan is a longtime petitioner on land and relocation issues who has been subjected to particularly harsh treatment in the past. She was forcibly admitted for psychiatric treatment in March and June of 2003, as well as being held in criminal detention. According to HRIC’s sources, Liu was subjected to brutal and degrading abuse while undergoing psychiatric treatment in 2003.
HRIC has also learned that an appeal hearing at Shanghai’s No. 2 Intermediate People’s Court upheld the original verdict by the Putuo District Court sentencing petitioner Xu Zhengqing to three years in prison on a charge of “disrupting public order.”
Xu Zhengqing is another longtime petitioner who has been subjected to constant persecution by the authorities as a result of his outspoken views. In the indictment against Xu, the Shanghai Putuo District Procuratorate alleged that while attempting to commemorate deceased former leader Zhao Zhiyang in Beijing on January 29, Xu caused disorder on a public bus and later on a train while being escorted by police back to Shanghai. Xu originally went to trial on September 13, 2005, and the verdict was delivered on October 17. His appeal was heard on the afternoon of January 20.
More than 100 supporters turned up outside the courthouse for Xu’s appeal hearing, including defense witnesses Ai Furong, Chen Daili and Chen Xiuqin, and fellow petitioners Ding Jundi, Zhang Xinyi, Yang Cunhua, Chen Wanfeng and Zhu Libing. However, police officers forcibly removed Xu’s supporters from the court entrance and temporarily detained them in a nearby school building. The detainees were later led away by police officers from their respective districts, and their current whereabouts are unknown.
HRIC deplores yet another instance of the Chinese authorities using psychiatric treatment as a means of persecution.The use of forcible psychiatric treatment and disproportionate prison sentences reflects an increasingly harsh official response to Chinese citizens who are lawfully seeking redress for urgent problems of governance, land rights and other issues.