Human Rights in China (HRIC) has learned from sources in China that a long-term campaigner against China’s coercive family planning policies, Mao Hengfeng, has been subjected to cruel and unusual punishment in custody at a Reeducation Through Labor (RTL) Camp in Shanghai.
Mao has been protesting and petitioning for 15 years since she was dismissed from her job because of an out-of-plan pregnancy. This past April the Shanghai Public Security Bureau ordered that Mao serve 18 months of RTL because of her relentless petitioning. HRIC reported in early October that Mao was being subjected to abusive treatment in the RTL camp, including being bound hand and foot and suspended in mid-air, and being subjected to severe beatings.
According to the latest reports HRIC has received, Mao has more recently been subjected to even more brutal treatment. HRIC’s sources say RTL camp police bound Mao’s wrists and ankles with leather straps, and then proceeded to pull her limbs in separate directions, while demanding that she acknowledge wrongdoing.
Mao’s situation has raised great concern within China among those who have learned of it in spite of the Chinese government’s restrictions on the free dissemination of information. Dozens of people have come forward to openly support Mao, and sources say protests led to the adjournment of a hearing scheduled on October 28 in Yangpu District to consider further administrative action against Mao. At one point several people gathered outside of the RTL camp where Mao is detained and called out her name. Mao went to a window and waved through the iron bars to acknowledge her supporters, but was then pulled away by camp officials. Sources say that when Mao objected to this interference, officials stepped up their measures against her, leading to the limb-pulling incident on November 10, which was continued over a period of two days. Mao subsequently complained of her ill-treatment to visiting family members, who were horrified to see the injuries that remained on her wrists and ankles. Mao also displayed her injuries at a November 18 hearing for her legal action against the authorities for terminating her welfare assistance, but officials have taken no action on her behalf.
“Mao’s brutal treatment by RTL camp officials clearly contravenes the UN Convention Against Torture, which China has ratified,” said HRIC president Liu Qing. “Higher authorities must step in and require that RTL camp officials desist in any further actions of this nature against Mao Hengfeng and any other prisoners.”