A paralyzed Chinese petitioner went to Beijing in 2007 to raise awareness about her husband, who was detained and tortured, but she suffered a similar fate at the hands of Chinese authorities, who sentenced her to months of hard labor before imprisoning her in a disused morgue for three years.
Chen Qingxia, wheelchair-bound, spent a year and a half in a forced labor camp before being locked in the morgue. Forced labor is a common sentence that is handed down directly by police to petitioners who voice their grievances to the Chinese regime.
Chen’s son, who was 12 at the time she was detained, was lost in Beijing six years ago and his whereabouts are unknown, state-run media reported.
The case emerged recently in the state press presumably to publicize the fact that Chen will now be receiving compensation from local officials.
Her difficulties began in 2003 when her husband developed mental problems after suffering torture in a detention center. Chen tried to appeal to local authorities, who said they would give her family due compensation, but they ultimately never did, forcing her to petition in Beijing, Chinese state-run radio reported.
Chen went to in Beijing in 2007 to petition and was then brought back to her hometown of Yichun in Heilongjiang from Beijing. Before she was brought back to Heilongjiang, Chen was held in a detention center for 10 days, where she was beaten, paralyzing her legs, and the authorities left her outside lying in the rain. Later, she was sent to a labor camp for 18 months, reported The Global Times, a state-run newspaper.
“My feet were okay when I returned from Beijing,” she told the South China Morning Post. “I walked into custody; they beat me. I am no longer able walk on my own any more.”
Witnesses told state-run radio that they didn’t help her out of fear of retribution from local authorities. “Whenever neighbors or friends tried to get involved, the Public Security Bureau frequently harassed them. Most people are too afraid to help her,” one witness said.
When she was being held in a morgue—state media did not state when that detention began—sanitation workers guarded her door 24 hours per day, with surveillance cameras, iron bars, and monitoring devices on each door, state radio reported.
Her husband, surnamed Song, was apparently already having psychological problems, but was detained and beaten in 2003 after passing through a quarantined area during the SARS scare, the Morning Post said. Later, he was diagnosed with schizophrenia and was confined to his home, forcing Chen—who said she saw bruises on his body—to seek compensation, reported the Global Times.
Now, her husband is in a mental hospital, and Chen can’t take care of herself. It is also unclear if her son, who is believed to be around 17 now, is alive or dead.
“We were at a bus station. My son was already on the bus and I was about to board. [Local Communist Party letters and calls director Yang Haifeng] grabbed me and wouldn’t let me go and the bus drove away. Yang told me he would find my son but he never did,” Chen told the Times.
Yang, the official, was given the honorary title of “Yichun’s high-level model worker” between 2005 and 2007.
Cases like Chen’s have prompted many Chinese to call into question the legitimacy of the country’s reeducation through forced labor camp system, which generally targets petitioners, religious adherents, democracy activists, and human rights proponents. There have been announcements and speculation that the system might be abolished or reformed in the near future.
Beijing-based lawyer Chen Jiangang told New York-based New Tang Dynasty Television that even if the system were done away with, it would not matter much because the same officials are in power.The Chinese Communist Party has spent an estimated $110 billion on “maintaining stability” at home—more than what is reportedly spent on the military.
Read the original Chinese article.
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