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Mao Hengfeng Protests Abusive Confinement

September 19, 2007

Human Rights in
China (HRIC) has learned that Shanghai rights defender Mao Hengfeng
continues to protest her detention at the Shanghai Women's Prison. After being
subjected to 70 days of solitary confinement in prison despite Chinese
regulations stipulating the maximum of 15 days, Mao has refused to wear a prison
uniform as a protest of her innocence, and is thus forced to stay in her cell
without clothes on.

According to Mao Hengfeng's husband, Wu Xuwei, Mao
was transferred from the Yangpu District Detention Center to the Shanghai
Women's Prison on May 15 this year, and was sent directly into solitary
confinement. Wu said prison officials told Mao she was being punished because
her attitude was “"dishonest," and because she refused to be

Wu reports that Mao Hengfeng spent 70 days in solitary
confinement, until July 23, in contravention of article 58 of the Chinese Prison
Law, which stipulates a maximum of 15 days. After coming out of solitary
confinement, Mao refused to wear a prison uniform. Prison guards then took away
all her other clothing and her blanket during the day, and now Mao spends her
days in her cell with no shirt on, as one of the limited forms of protest she
can make from prison.

Wu Xuwei further told HRIC that detention center
officials and prison trustees have used a variety of tactics to mistreat and
humiliate Mao Hengfeng. On May 15, when Mao was first transferred to the Women's
Prison, she was beaten and choked by detention center personnel, who also forced
her to wear a revealingly thin shirt and a black hood. Wu said that Mao went on
a hunger strike to protest her abusive treatment, but that prison authorities
force-fed her.

Wu Xuwei said that now with the weather becoming cooler,
Mao often catches a cold because she wears no clothes during the day, and the
blanket provided for her at night is inadequate. She has developed pain in her
back and joints, has trouble walking, and has developed high blood pressure.

Mao Hengfeng was originally employed at a soap factory in Shanghai.
Dismissed in 1988 when she refused to abort her second pregnancy, Mao has been
petitioning her grievances since 1989. As a result, she has been forcibly
admitted to psychiatric hospitals, as well as being detained multiple times and
sentenced to reeducation-through-labor. In early June 2006, police officers from
Shanghai's Yangpu District Daqiao public security station detained Mao in a
guesthouse for violating residential surveillance rules. During her detention
there, she broke two table lamps, and on January 12, 2007, was sentenced to two
years and six months in prison on the charge of "intentionally destroying

HRIC condemns the abusive and humiliating treatment to which
Mao Hengfeng has been continually subjected in prison. The excessive period of
70 days in solitary confinement violated not only relevant sanctions under the
PRC Prison Law but also international standards. HRIC urges prison authorities
to respect Mao Hengfeng's human dignity as stipulated in the Chinese Prison Law
and in numerous international standards, by ensuring that she is not abused or
forced to wear revealing or inappropriate clothing.

For further
information on Mao Hengfeng, see:

other cases of prisoners penalized for refusing to wear a prison uniform, see: