In Maoist China, the Opponents sent to psychiatric institutions by the state had a name: “those who have been rendered insane”. The system had even been institutionalized in 1988 with the creation of “Ankang,” psychiatric hospitals managed directly by the Ministry of Public Security. However, patient rights laws passed in 2012 and 2013 were intended to put an end to these arbitrary detentions. It is not so.
A report by the NGO Safeguard Defenders published on August 16 shows not only that these restrictions on opponents outside of a legal process still exist, but that a number of psychiatric hospitals managed by the Ministry of Health participate in this system and international law. The Madrid-based NGO has identified 99 victims who were hospitalized against their will in 109 hospitals in more than 20 provinces between 2013 and 2021. They are just “the tip of the iceberg,” says the NGO.
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Among the identified victims are 14 political activists and 80 simple petitioners: Chinese with no political involvement but who one day dared to complain about an injustice or an act of corruption. Seventy were subject to only one hospital stay, most of which lasted less than six months. But some are “in multiple hospitals” and remain incarcerated for several years. Thus began Jiang Tianlu’s nightmare in 2004, when this man denounced the officials who, publicly, beat his father to death after he exposed their corruption. Since then, Jiang Tianlu doesn’t even know exactly how many hospitalizations he has endured. Probably 7. The last came in January 2021. He was arrested while accompanying his 7-year-old daughter to school. Jiang Tianlu claims that he was handcuffed to his bed, beaten and drugged without his knowledge.
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“No release date”
The record for hospital admissions undoubtedly goes to Gu Xianghong, a woman who has been detained twenty times since 1999 after being beaten by the police. Several testimonies refer to electric shocks and other forms of torture. Dong Yaoqiong would have suffered as a result; This young girl, who lives in Shanghai, poured ink on a portrait of President Xi Jinping in July 2018, denouncing the Chinese “dictatorship” on social networks. Arrested, she will remain locked up in a psychiatric hospital until November 2019. According to her father, she suffered from a form of dementia due to the antipsychotics prescribed by the hospital. Hospitalized again in May 2020, she came out even sicker two months later after losing control of her urinary system and suffering from night terrors. According to Safeguard Defenders, her father indicated in February 2021 that the young woman was hospitalized again and would be hospitalized today.
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