Human Rights in China (HRIC) has learned that veteran Shanghai petitioner Mao Hengfeng was subjected to physical and mental abuse while detained for more than a month for her participation in a hunger strike.
Mao took part in the nationwide hunger strike in support of lawyer Gao Zhisheng and other rights defenders in mid-February. On the evening of February 13, police officers from Shanghai’s Yangpu District Daqiao dispatch station placed Mao under residential surveillance on suspicion of “causing a disturbance in a public place.” Mao was finally released on March 29.
Mao says that she was held in “soft detention” in an apartment in Yangpu District’s Gongqing Forest Park, with five or six people keeping watch on her every day. She says, “I was kept confined to one of two rooms, and even had to ask permission to go to the bathroom. Apart from the psychological torment, they also physically abused me. They beat me on several occasions, and a police officer surnamed Bai with badge number 039351 knelt on my chest and grabbed me around the neck, saying he would cause the blood to flood my brain so that cause of death could not be determined.”
Mao’s husband, concerned for her health, asked Mao’s lawyer, Wu Guoce, to visit her in detention on February 20. Wu was reportedly refused access to Mao on “state secrets” grounds.
Sources in China told HRIC that a number of other petitioners detained around the time of the National People’s Congress session in February remain in custody. The elderly parents of three detainees, Ma Yalian, Chen Xiaoming and Fu Yuxia, went to the Shanghai office of the official Xinhua News Agency and asked Xinhua to produce an “internal” report for central government officials on the unlawful detention of petitioners in Shanghai. However, the Shanghai police deployed dozens of police officers to block access to the Xinhua office, and the parents, all aged in their 70s and 80s, were not allowed to talk with Xinhua officials.
Fu Yuxia’s father, Fu Guozhong, has gone to the Luwan Public Security Bureau several times to inquire after his daughter. On one occasion a police officer surnames Shao reportedly told him, “Go home and wait, there will be a conclusion eventually.” Fu Yuxia was “summoned” to the police station 47 days ago, but her family members have not been shown a warrant or any other legal documents apart from the original summons.
Ma Yalian’s mother, Liu Chunfang, has written an open appeal for the release of her daughter, who was detained on February 15 and whose current whereabouts are unknown. The full text is appended to the Chinese version of this press release.
Sources told HRIC that petitioner Han Zhongming also remains in custody after being detained in late February, and his current whereabouts are unknown.
HRIC is deeply concerned over allegations of physical abuse of and other violations committed against Mao Hengfeng in custody, which include her being denied access to legal counsel. Mao’s ill-treatment is especially egregious given that her case is identified in the report of the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture following his inspection visit to China late last year. HRIC also protests the secrecy surrounding the detention of several other petitioners, who have been missing for over a month. If local authorities do not provide a legal basis for detention in accordance with procedural requirements, these petitioners should be released without further delay.