Washington — Human rights organizations report that the police in Shanghai have recently arrested large numbers of citizens who go to the government appeals office. There are reports that anyone who refuses an illegal search is brutally beaten. China Human Rights, headquartered in New York City, alleges that Chinese authorities describe the appealers as “mentally disturbed” in order to discourage people from exercising their legal right to appeal.
According to China Human Rights, the Shanghai Appeal Bureau and the Jing’an District Police Station began large-scale arrests of the appealers on September 14. They arrested over 100 people at different times and in different locations, and used the charge of “gathering illegally” to justify the arrests. The China Human Rights press release indicated that the Shanghai police were not following legal procedures when they photographed, videotaped, questioned, registered, and searched the arrested appealers. The release also stated witnesses, who prefer to remain anonymous, reported that anyone who refused to cooperate was beaten on the spot.
One witness reported, “That bald man, Zhang Fenfen, was beaten because he refused to be photographed, or maybe because he asked why he had been arrested. Five or six policemen surrounded and then hit him. They stopped hitting hin only when people at the scene started to object loudly, saying that police shouldn’t be beating people. Zhang was taken to another room and I don’t know what happened after that.”
Another witness said that she remembered the number on one policemen’s uniform was 027223.
Using “mental disorder” to Justify Mistreatment of Dissidents
China Human Rights also reported that Zhang Fenfen has twice been sent to a psychiatric hospital for appealing to the government. There he was forcefully subjected to unnecessary “treatment.” He was injected with strong sedatives and was given electrical shock treatments.
Mao Hengfeng was recently released from a labor camp where she had been held because she appealed to the bureau after her home was demolished. She said that her husband, Wu Xuewei, was subpoenaed and taken from his home on September 15, and charged by public security officers with “gathering illegally”. He was let out on bail for 6 months before being sent to trial. Mao Hengfeng said that she has appealed three times since her home was demolished. The police sent her to a psychiatric hospital, and she described what happened to her there as “a living hell.”
She said, “The first time I was tortured was on August 9, 2004. The second time was from January 9 through 12, during which time I was not allowed to use the bathroom. My legs were pulled in opposite directions, which caused intense physical pain. After injections of anti-psychotic medicine I was only half aware of what was going on. They made it unbearable for me. They wanted me to commit suicide, but I said I would not.”
China Human Rights President Liu Qing said that the Chinese authorities have always used “mental disorder” as an excuse to persecute dissidents and people who criticize the government, and is doing so increasingly often.
At present, over 100 of the arrested appealers have been released. But at least 3 people, including Zhang Fenfen, Chen Enjuan, and Wei Qing are still imprisoned. Chen Enjuan’s husband Hu Fangding says that the Public Security Bureau have never provided any legal documentation to explain his wife’s imprisonment.
The Shanghai Jing’an District Police Station Public Safety Division refused to answer reporters’ questions about these occurrences, saying that they did not respond to questions from foreign media.