Human Rights in China (HRIC) has learned from sources in China that a long-term campaigner against China’s coercive family planning policies, Mao Hengfeng, has had her custodial sentence at a Reeducation Through Labor (RTL) Camp in Shanghai increased by three months.
Mao has been protesting and petitioning for 15 years since she was dismissed from her job because of an out-of-plan pregnancy. This past April the Shanghai Public Security Bureau ordered that Mao serve 18 months of RTL because of her relentless petitioning. HRIC reported in early October 2004 that Mao was being subjected to abusive treatment in the RTL camp, including being suspended in mid-air and subjected to severe beatings. Subsequent information in late November indicated that Mao had been subjected to even more brutal treatment, with camp police binding her wrists and ankles with leather straps, and then pulling her limbs while demanding that she acknowledge wrongdoing.
Although HRIC’s reports raised great concern in the international community, including the U.S. government and relevant UN bodies, Mao’s treatment in custody has not improved. Rather, RTL camp officials reportedly informed Mao just before the beginning of this year that higher-level officials had authorized an extension of her detention by three months. According the HRIC’s sources, neither Mao nor her family were allowed to examine the order authorizing this extension, nor was she informed of any recourse for appeal. In addition, sources told HRIC that when Mao refused to sign a document acknowledging thought reform, camp officials threatened to reduce her family visits and telephone privileges.
“The recent increase in Mao’s sentence appears to be another sign of retrenchment by the Beijing government in regard to human rights issues,” said HRIC president Liu Qing. “The international community should step up its pressure on the Chinese government to follow fair procedure and to adhere to its international obligations, including those under the UN Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, which China has ratified.”