Human Rights in China (HRIC) has learned that Shanghai authorities have been rounding up petitioners and other dissenters in an apparent move to impose order on major urban areas on the eve of the new sessions of the National People’s Congress (NPC) and Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) in Beijing.
Sources in China told HRIC that Liu Xinjuan, Tang Xiazhen and several others went to Beijing to petition the government on February 17. On February 22, Shanghai officials based in Beijing detained the petitioners and escorted them back to Shanghai on the morning of February 24. Two hours after Liu Xinjuan returned to Shanghai, public security police from the Minxin District Qibao Dispatch Station forcibly admitted her to the Minxin District Mental Health Center.
This is the fourth time since 2003 that police have imposed psychiatric treatment on Liu Xinjuan. She was released from her last treatment on January 20 of this year. Liu’s son, Feng Lianxi, said the police officer responsible for admitting Liu to the mental health center was Gu Fenggao, the same officer as on previous occasions. Feng said that Liu’s rough treatment in the psychiatric hospital in January left her with contusions on her head and bruises covering her body. Feng said hospital officials told him they would not release Liu this time without the permission of the police.
Sources also told HRIC that petitioner Wang Liqing was also recently placed under residential surveillance in her home. Police from the Hongkou District State Security Bureau and the local PSB division subsequently detained Wang’s brother, Wang Lizhuang, on the afternoon of February 24 without producing a warrant, then carried out a search on his home, taking his computer, discs, journals and other materials. Sources say police suspect Wang Lizhuang of disseminating information over the Internet regarding the Shanghai activists’ participation in the hunger strike of human rights defender and lawyer Gao Zhisheng.
Sources further revealed that Shanghai’s Daqiao PSB station placed long-time petitioner Mao Hengfeng under residential surveillance on February 13. On February 21, Mao’s lawyer, Wu Guoce, attempted to visit her, but police refused him access on “state secrets” grounds.
Beginning in mid-February, local authorities also detained or imposed residential surveillance on activists Ma Yalian, Chen Xiaoming, Fu Yuxia and Du Yangming. Police took Tian Baocheng and his wife along with another petitioner, Sun Jian, to a vacant hostel on the outskirts of the city, and Shen Yongmei was held in a hostel in Shanghai’s Jinshan District.
The Chinese government’s crackdown on its more vocally critical citizens before high-profile meetings such as NPC and CPPCC sessions undercuts the legitimacy of what is supposed to be a representative process. This suppression, which includes the illegitimate incarceration of individuals in mental health institutions and detentions based on protected exercise of expression, also renews ongoing concerns over China's capacity to deal with the root causes rather than the symptoms of public discontent and unrest.
Following are contact telephone numbers for some of the Shanghai authorities involved in Liu Xinjuan’s detention:
Minxin District Qibao Dispatch Station: 021-64619110, ext. 8315
PSB officer Gu Fenggao of the Qibao Dispatch Station: 13701703365
Minxin Mental Health Center: 021-64924676, ext. 837