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Mao Hengfeng, Petitioner on Family Planning Issues, Reports Continued Abuse in Prison

September 16, 2008

Human Rights in China has learned that Mao Hengfeng (毛恒凤), who began serving a two-and-a-half year sentence in December 2006 in the Shanghai Women’s Prison, continues to be physically and mentally abused in prison. She has not been allowed visits by family members for more than 10 months. Her husband, Wu Xuewei (吴雪伟), last spoke with her by telephone on August 13 this year, and provided the following information to Human Rights in China.

According to Wu, between May 2007 and June 2008, Mao was forcibly sent to the prison hospital three times for “treatment,” for a total of more than 50 days. The prison’s ostensible reason for one of the trips to the hospital was her refusal to eat prison food. The most recent trip, in June 2008, was on account of her having diarrhea. In the hospital, she was subjected to various barbaric procedures and given large quantities of drugs of unknown nature, which seriously damaged her health.

Mao Hengfeng’s case and other cases of prisoner abuse will provide powerful evidence on whether China is in fact complying with the obligations of the [UN Convention Against Torture].
— Sharon Hom, Executive Director of HRIC

On July 4, 2008, Wu went to the prison but was told that because Mao continued to refuse to wear the prison uniform, they were allowed only a telephone conversation, not a visit. On August 13, Wu went to the prison again, and the prison authorities again denied a face-to-face visit. On the phone, Mao told him that the wounds she sustained in the prison hospital on June 6 – 18 had not healed. There were clear scars, especially on her wrists, from being tied up tightly for a long time. She could not move her wrists. The veins where they jabbed her with needles still hurt. She told her husband that after their July 4 conversation, she could not stop vomiting and was “so weak that she could not move and felt as if her veins were exploding.”

Mao Hengfeng also told her husband that to punish her for protesting her persecution aloud, the prison authorities instigated fellow inmates to verbally abuse her, calling her “lunatic, psycho, thug.” They even made a recording of the malicious rant and played the tape through the loudspeaker in her cell in an endless loop. Mao said that the sustained and intense noise caused her blood pressure to rise and resulted in an exploding headache. After she splashed the loudspeaker on the ceiling with the liquid from her cup to stop the noise, the prison authorities installed a loudspeaker outside her cell to continue the broadcast. In addition, Mao said the prison authorities also prompted other female prisoners to physically assault her in the bathroom.

Her family members are deeply worried about Mao’s physical condition. They have made repeated verbal and written requests to the prison authorities for a copy of Mao’s medical history. The prison authorities never granted their request and have refused to let her seek treatment outside the prison.

“This is a disturbing example of the Chinese authorities’ cruel treatment of prisoners,” said Sharon Hom, executive director of Human Rights in China. “China is a party to the UN Convention Against Torture. In addition, China’s Prison Law prohibits the humiliation of prisoners and the violation of their personal safety. This November, the UN Committee Against Torture will review the periodic report that the Convention requires the Chinese government to submit. Mao Hengfeng’s case and other cases of prisoner abuse will provide powerful evidence on whether China is in fact complying with the obligations of the Convention.”

Mao Hengfeng was a soap factory worker in Shanghai but was fired in 1988 for refusing to abort her second pregnancy. She began petitioning the authorities in 1989, and was sent to a psychiatric hospital three times, detained three times, and was sentenced to one-and-a-half years of Reeducation-Through-Labor. In 2006, a few days before the anniversary of “June Fourth,” officers from Shanghai’s Yangpu District Daqiao public security station detained Mao in the Kelaideng guest house for violating residential surveillance rules. During her detention there, Mao broke two table lamps in protest. As a result, on January 12, 2007, Shanghai’s Yangpu District Court sentenced Mao to two years and six months in prison for “intentionally destroying property.”

For further information on Mao Hengfeng, see:

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