AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL
Newsflash

Date: 13 January 2009

China: Female activist should be released immediately

The Shanghai Public Security Bureau today detained human rights activist Mao Hengfeng and sentenced her to seven days administrative detention.

Mao Hengfeng and her daughter were taken by police from outside the Shanghai Municipal People’s Congress meeting on 12 January. They were there with 100 other Shanghai residents attempting to ask the congressional representatives to address the issue of forced evictions and other human rights abuses in the city. The police had sealed off the venue and the protestors were held at a distance. Mao Hengfeng shouted: ‘Shanghai representatives, you should serve your people. Come listen to us! We want democracy and freedom, and an end to torture!’

The police seized Mao Hengfeng and her daughter, together with several other protesters, and drove them to an unknown detention facility. At midnight everyone else was sent home, but Mao was transferred to Daqiao police station. The police then issued a notice to her family stating that she will be held for seven days for ‘disturbing public order’.

After visiting Mao Hengfeng earlier today, her family say that the police had not fed her, and it was obvious from her appearance that she had been beaten.

“Mao Hengfeng is being arbitrarily detained for exercising her right to protest peacefully. She should be immediately and unconditionally released,” said Sam Zarifi, Amnesty International’s Asia-Pacific director.

Background

Since 2004, Chinese authorities have repeatedly detained Mao Hengfeng for her work defending women’s reproductive rights and housing rights. In January 2007, she was sentenced to two and half year’s imprisonment for “intentionally damaging property”. She was released on 29 November 2008. While in prison she was tortured. She is now suffering from high blood pressure, constant pain from injuries caused by torture, a skin infection from unsanitary conditions in detention and chronic stomach ache. Since her release, the authorities have been closely monitoring her.

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