On June 16 the Badong County Court of Hubei Province issued a statement that declared Deng Yujia’s “freedom has been legally, fully restored.” Within 48 hours, that freedom had been taken away once again, although the Chinese people have been told she is free.
In a tape recording of a conversation of a blogger with Deng’s mother, the mother says Deng is now being held in a psychiatric hospital.
Deng, a waitress and pedicurist at a Badong resort, had been tried for killing a Communist Party official who was alleged to be raping her. Her act of resistance, subsequent arrest, and trial have captured the attention of people throughout China, with bloggers, former Communist Party officials, and even members of the state-run media writing in her defense. Approximately 500 supporters showed up outside her trial, even though the trial date had not been announced in advance.
The court’s decision, which claimed to give Deng her freedom, found her guilty but did not impose any punishment. The court claimed to give her leniency, in part because of her “bearing limited criminal liability,” meaning that she was mentally ill.
That assertion was never proven at trial as no witness or evidence was presented. Bloggers who have followed this case closely assert that Deng has no mental illness. Nonetheless, the claim that she is mentally ill is now the apparent pretext for detaining her.
Wu Gan, a blogger who goes by the pen name of Tufu, has supported Deng. On the 18th, Tufu got in touch with Deng’s mother, Zhang Shuhai, and told her how Internet bloggers had collected money to help her family financially and in particular wished to offer Deng a quiet place in Beijing where she might recover from her ordeal. Zhang thanked the supporters but refused to take any money.
Tufu uploaded his conversation with Zhang to his blog on June 18. Part of what Zhang says in the recording is: “She is—I am not sure where she is.
“I am back home now, but I don’t know where she is.
“The authorities demand to treat her illness. She is out to a hospital. I am not with her now.”
The conversation with Zhang does not make clear when exactly Deng was detained in the hospital.
The claims by Deng’s mother contradict the claims made in China’s state-run media that reported Deng walked out of the court free. In those reports, there was a quote from Deng asking her mother whether she could go shopping. Phoenix TV, reportedly Beijing’s overseas mouthpiece, aired a special interview with Deng the second day after the trial, showing Deng was free.
In her conversation with Tufu, Deng’s mother also thanked the two lawyers Xia Lin and Xia Nan. She had fired these lawyers about one week after Deng’s arrest. She told Tufu she had no choice but to fire them, and believed Tufu would understand why she did it.
Psychiatric hospitals in China are often run by the military or the security forces and “treatment” in these hospitals is often used to punish political dissidents.