Petitioners, Others Held in Mental Hospitals

Human Rights In China has published the story of Li Jinping, an ardent supporter of Zhao Ziyang, victim of forced demolition, and former Chaoyang public security officer. Li writes that he was held in a Beijing psychiatric hospital for eight months, despite having no mental health issues.

On November 30, 2010, the head of the local police substation said: “Stop saying that Zhao Ziyang was innocent.” I said I would not stop. He then said: “Sign your name on the demolition agreement.” I said no, I did not agree with the terms: they were giving me 100 square meters worth of compensation for 800 square meters. “Since you don’t agree, let’s take this discussion somewhere else!” Ten police officers dragged me into a police vehicle and handcuffed me. They took me to Chaoyang District Shuangqiao No. 3 Hospital, also known as the Chaoyang Mental Health Center, a psychiatric hospital. When I saw the sign, I started to cry. I tried to control my emotions—I said I didn’t break the law and wasn’t ill. They said, “If we say you’re sick, you are sick.” They took me into a room for the seriously disturbed.

There were a total of three people in this room. The other two were not lucid so I had nobody to talk to. There were nurses in this room whose job it was to keep watch on us round-the-clock and who separated me from other patients, not letting me have any contact with them ….

Twenty days later, they wanted to do a blood test, but I wouldn’t let them. They tied me down onto the bed and took my blood forcibly. After the test, they said I had Hepatitis B and forced me to take medicine. It was Risperdal [an anti-psychotic drug known to have potentially fatal side effect]. They told me it was medicine to regulate my moods. After I took the medicine, I had a numbing pain in my whole body, and I felt pain in my head and my heart.

At USA Today last month, Calum MacLeod described the growing use of politically-motivated forced hospitalisations, particularly against petitioners, and the beginnings of legislative action against the practice.

The Communist Party does not acknowledge its mental facilities are used to silence critics, but according to numerous human rights groups and Chinese dissidents, China’s Communist-led government has for decades incarcerated healthy people in mental wards to suppress dissent. In the past two years, wrongful confinement cases have sharply increased, says Liu Feiyue of Civil Rights and Livelihood Watch, a human-rights organization based in Suzhou ….

Rights activist Liu says officials commit troublemakers to mental hospitals because the process is secretive and, unlike the courts, requires no evidence of wrongdoing. He says the full extent of wrongful confinement in recent years far exceeds the 1,000 cases his group has compiled in a database since 2009.

Corruption also plays a major role. Unethical doctors and hospital administrators can benefit financially by allowing police to turn hospitals into “black jails,” Liu says.

In 2010, the Ministry of Public Security ordered that psychiatric hospitals “must not admit anyone who is not a mental patient” without obtaining police approval, an obviously less than airtight safeguard. The previous year, a Peking University professor controversially stated that 99% of petitioners were mentally ill and should be hospitalised for their own safety and that of others, even if most displayed no symptoms. In 2006, the Los Angeles Times reported the story of Wang Wanxing, who was forcibly hospitalised for 13 years after unfurling an anti-government banner in Tiananmen Square on June 3rd, 1992.


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