Long-time Shanghai petitioner Mao Hengfeng (毛恒凤) has been ordered to serve one-and-a-half years of Reeducation-Through-Labor (RTL) for “disturbing social order” by shouting slogans outside a Beijing court on December 25, 2009. Mao was one of the protestors who gathered outside the Beijing Municipal No. 1 Intermediate People’s Court on the morning the court found prominent intellectual Liu Xiaobo (刘晓波) guilty of “inciting subversion of state power” and sentenced him to 11 years’ imprisonment and two years’ deprivation of political rights. According to Mao’s husband, Wu Xuewei (吴雪伟), Mao shouted: “This country has no regard for human rights; this country has no regard for law” and other slogans. (See below for HRIC’s English translation of the decision.)
Wu told Human Rights in China (HRIC) that Mao was first detained on February 23, 2010, in Beijing. At 2:00 a.m. that morning, according to Shen Peilan (沈佩兰), a fellow petitioner who had traveled with Mao to Beijing, a group of Beijing and Shanghai police officers dragged Mao from the hotel room where they were staying and took Mao away in a police vehicle with a license plate that read “A2968.” Wu, who was at home in Shanghai, said that he received a notice from the Daqiao public security substation in Shanghai’s Yangpu District on February 25, that Mao was being held in administrative detention for ten days for disturbing social order. Mao did not return home at the end of the detention period, and Wu did not know about the RTL order until he went to the Daqiao substation on March 8 to inquire about Mao.
Another Shanghai protestor, Tong Guojing (童国菁), who shouted slogans outside the Beijing court on December 23 (the day of Liu Xiaobo’s trial), has also been ordered to serve one and a half years of RTL, though his RTL decision cited his participation in a gathering of more than 100 people in Shanghai in January 2010 – not the Beijing court incident – as the basis for the punishment.
“Reeducation-Through-Labor is a highly problematic form of administrative punishment; it is prone to abuse as it allows the police to lock people up for prolonged periods of time without having to go through judicial review,” said Sharon Hom, executive director of Human Rights in China. “In the period leading up to the May opening of the 2010 Shanghai World Expo in particular, we urge the international community to pay close attention to the Chinese authorities’ continued use of RTL as a means to cleanse the city of activists and petitioners.”
Mao’s detention and RTL sentence came barely a year and three months after her release in late November 2008 after completing a two-and-a-half-year prison term for breaking two lamps while under “residential surveillance.”
In January 2009, Mao was placed under administrative detention for seven days after shouting slogans on Nanjing Road in Shanghai, where she went to petition the deputies and representatives who were due to arrive at the annual Shanghai Municipal People’s Congress and the Shanghai Municipal People’s Political Consultative Conference.
Mao has been an activist and petitioner for over 20 years. In 1988, she was dismissed from her soap factory job when she refused to abort a second pregnancy. As a result of petitioning the authorities for redress of that dismissal and subsequent abuses, including forced eviction, Mao was forcibly admitted to psychiatric hospitals three times, detained multiple times, and served a one-and-a-half year sentence of RTL. While she was in the Shanghai Women’s Prison serving the two-and-a-half-year prison term for breaking two lamps, Mao was subjected to various abuses, including a 70-day-long solitary confinement, beating, choking that resulted from forced feeding, and suspension in mid-air with her hands and feet bound.
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