Crippled petitioner tells of being locked up in disused morgue

Woman tells of horror treatment after seeking justice for her mentally disabled husband

PUBLISHED : Friday, 25 January, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 25 January, 2013, 3:58am

A middle-aged woman petitioner whose legs are paralysed has been locked up in a disused morgue in Heilongjiang since being released from 18 months in a labour camp.

Chen Qingxia told China National Radio that her husband, a mental patient, was sentenced to re-education through labour for damaging a railing in 2003. But the labour camp refused to take him because of his condition and sent him back to the local public security bureau.

China National Radio said he was diagnosed as schizophrenic by a government hospital a few months later. When her husband returned home, Chen said she found bruises on his body and his psychiatric state had worsened.

She then started petitioning in the hope of seeking justice.

In 2007, she was detained for 10 days in her hometown of Yichun after being intercepted by Heilongjiang officials during a petitioning trip to Beijing. Chen accused guards at the detention centre of beating her and paralysing her.

"My feet were okay when I returned from Beijing," she said. "I walked into custody; they beat me. I am no longer able walk on my own any more."

She later served 18 months in a labour camp before being forced to live in a deserted morgue with a guard watching her round-the-clock, China National Radio reported.

Chen said her 12-year-old son had gone missing amid the chaos, as petitions officials in her hometown tried to stop her from filing complaints.

She said her husband was still in a psychiatric asylum.

Li Nan, a propaganda official in Yichun, said that rather than keep Chen under surveillance, she was being cared for by four people from the local hygiene department on humanitarian grounds.

The mainland's re-education through labour, or laojiao, system has long been criticised for violating human rights by imprisoning people for up to four years without trial.