An activist, dubbed “Ink Girl” on Chinese social media, was reported missing after she posted a video on Twitter on Nov. 30, in which she exposed the abuses she has endured as a result of being persecuted by Chinese authorities for criticizing the regime and defacing a photo of Chinese leader Xi Jinping in 2018.
Dong Yaoqiong, a native of Zhuzhou city, Hunan Province, is a former real estate agent who worked in Shanghai. On July 4, 2018, Dong live-streamed herself on Twitter as she splashed ink on a propaganda poster bearing Xi’s image that was in front of Shanghai HNA Building. She expressed opposition to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP)’s dictatorship and criticized the authorities for persecuting its own people through brainwashing and mind control tactics.
On the same day, Dong was taken away by Shanghai police. Her act of vandalism was considered by the authorities as “attacking state leaders,” according to a report by The Independent. Shortly after Dong’s disappearance, she was taken to her hometown in Zhuzhou, where she received psychiatric treatment at Hunan’s Zhuzhou No. 3 Hospital (a psychiatric institution), Voice of America reported on July 22, 2018.
On Nov. 19, 2019, Dong was released and sent to her mother’s residence in Hunan’s Taoshui township, where she was monitored by local authorities.
In May this year, Dong was again taken away by authorities and detained in a psychiatric institution. She was released a month later. But her family noticed that she had changed.
Her father, Dong Jianbiao, found that she was like a different person. In an interview with Human Rights Network in late September, Mr. Dong said that his daughter was forced to take a lot of medication at the hospital. Consequently, the lively and cheerful young woman became reserved, nervous and despondent. He expressed concern that the authorities could come back for his daughter and detain her at a psychiatric hospital, and called on the international community to pay attention to her plight.
On Nov. 30, Dong posted a video on Twitter about the persecution she endured by Chinese authorities. Her video was soon deleted, but reposted by netizens and human rights activists.
— 相林🌸 (@xianglin8964) November 30, 2020
Dong said, “I am not mentally ill, but I’m on the verge of a nervous breakdown because I’m being persecuted by them [CCP]. … After I was released from the mental hospital for the second time, I was assigned to work in the local government department. The so-called ‘work’ was actually a tactic to put me under their surveillance and control.”
She revealed that the authorities keep track of her whereabouts and closely watch over her social circle.
Furthermore, Dong is not allowed to contact her father. She learned through local activist Ou Biaofeng that her father survived a worksite accident at the Yuanjiangshan Coal Mine in Leiyang, Hunan. According to Chinese media reports, 15 workers were underground when water flooded the mine shaft on Nov. 29. Only two workers (Dong’s father being one of them) managed to escape, while 13 remained trapped.
Under such pressure of being closely monitored, Dong expressed that she was on the verge of a mental breakdown.
“I decided to tweet now because I’m not afraid of them anymore. … If they put me in a (psychiatric) hospital again, no problem; and if I’m stuck there for the rest of my life, then so be it.”
“So, I don’t want to live like this anymore. Under this kind of pressure of being monitored, I really can’t bear it anymore. I may be close to breaking down. Thank-you everyone for paying attention to me. I will not think about the consequences of tweeting tonight. I will bear the consequences.”
Dong asked, “What did I do wrong? Did I break the law? Or do I really have a mental problem? Before I splashed ink [referring to the 2018 incident], I was working in a company in Shanghai. You can ask my colleagues if there is something wrong with me mentally!”
In addition to the video, Dong also posted three comments on Twitter on the same day, condemning Xi Jinping and Chinese vice president Wang Qishan for “using the power of the whole country” to stifle her freedom. Dong stressed that she was not mentally ill and was detained at the hospital against her will.
At present, Dong’s video and posts have been deleted. As of Dec. 1, there has been no activity on her social media account and it is speculated that she may have been abducted by authorities, according to a report by Radio Free Asia.
Activist Xianglin reposted Dong’s video on Twitter and called for her release. “Yaoqiong tells everyone that she has been deprived of her freedom by the Chinese Communist authorities, and that she is not mentally ill and has not violated the law. The CCP authorities should immediately free Yaoqiong.”
Pro-democracy activist Li Fang retweeted Dong’s video and wrote, “Dong Yaoqiong has said that she has never been mentally ill! She was imprisoned in a mental hospital for more than two years because she splashed ink on Xi Jinping’s photo, and she was forced to take medication every day. Her punishment constitutes a crime of illegal detention and now she is illegally detained by government agencies.”