Human Rights in China (HRIC) has learned that at least four rights defenders in Shanghai were detained in late September: Mao Hengfeng (毛恒凤), Cui Fufang (崔福芳), Wang Kouma (王扣玛), and Tong Guojing (童国菁). Three of them have been charged with “gathering a crowd to disturb public order” or “disturbing social order.”
Mao Hengfeng, a long-time rights defender and petitioner who had been imprisoned multiple times previously, went to Beijing at the end of August to petition for unpaid pension. She was intercepted by plainclothes police on September 30, and taken back to Shanghai.
Mao’s husband Wu Xuewei (吴雪伟) told HRIC that he received Mao’s criminal detention notice on October 2, which states that Mao is being held on suspicion of “gathering a crowd to disturb public order.” Wu believes that the charge stems from Mao’s participation in commemorative activities for Teng Jingdi (滕金娣)—a petitioner who died in 2008 in a black jail after being taken into custody while petitioning in Beijing—in January 2012. Wu believes that action was taken against Mao months after the alleged misconduct because authorities are trying to remove petitioners from Beijing before the upcoming 18th Party Congress, which is scheduled to begin on November 8.
Mao began petitioning after she was fired from her job in 1988 for refusing to abort a second pregnancy. She was subsequently incarcerated in psychiatric hospitals at least three times. In 2007, she was sentenced to two and a half years in prison for the trumped up charge that she broke two lamps while under “residential surveillance”; while imprisoned, she suffered many types of abuse and torture. In 2010, Mao was sent to a Reeducation-through-Labor (RTL) camp in Anhui on charges of “disturbing social order” for voicing her support for imprisoned Nobel Peace Laureate Liu Xiaobo (刘晓波). In 2011, just two days after she was released in Anhui on medical parole, she was sent to an RTL camp in Shanghai. She received an early release in July that year because of illness.
Wu Xuewei further informed HRIC that rights activists Cui Fufang, Wang Kouma, and Tong Guojing have also been taken into custody. Shanghainese rights defender and secondary school teacher Chang Xiongfa (常雄发) confirmed that Wang and Tong were picked up on the morning of September 25.
Wang Kouma, 56, was taken from his home by Shanghai domestic security personnel without any stated cause. His family has received no further information regarding his detention. Tong’s family received a criminal detention notice issued by the Zhabei District Public Security Bureau in Shanghai at some point after Tong was detained stating that he is being held in the Xuhui District Detention Center on suspicion of “disturbing social order.” According to reports, Cui Fufang was also criminally detained on September 25 by the Zhabei District Public Security Bureau. Her family has also not received any explanation from the police.
Chang Xiongfa said that Wang Kouma has actively engaged in rights defense work targeting corrupt local officials in Shanghai. After Wang’s mother Teng Jindi (滕金娣) died in a black jail where she was confined by authorities from Zhabei District’s Beizhan Subdistrict, the authorities charged Wang with “abandonment” and sentenced to a year and a half in prison. Wang has been petitioning ever since his release at the end of 2008. Wang suffers from a variety of illnesses and is disabled in one leg due to beatings he received in prison.
For more information on Mao Hengfeng, see:
For more information on Wang Kouma and Tong Guojing, see:
For background documents on Mao Hengfeng (Chinese only), see: