provided by: Amnesty International
15th August 2011
The last time Mao Hengfeng was home from jail, the celebration was short-lived. She had roughly two days of freedom before being re-detained on vague charges. Two weeks ago, when Chinese police returned Mao Hengfeng home from her most recent term of “Re-Education through Labor” – it didn’t feel right to celebrate at all. She was home, but she was delivered unconscious in a wheelchair…severely beaten…clearly tortured… barely alive.
It gets worse. Shanghai authorities have been known to return detainees to their homes shortly before they die so that they can later wash their hands of all culpability. Because her release was completely unexpected, Mao’s husband and family could only expect the worst.
I can honestly tell you that some of my happiest moments here at Amnesty International have been the days when a prisoner of conscience is released. Just knowing that they are being reunited with their loved ones makes our work all the more satisfying.
But bittersweet doesn’t even begin to cover the disgraceful “homecoming” of Mao Hengfeng.
Not only should she have never been detained in the first place for voicing her beliefs, but no one – and I mean no one – should ever experience the appalling treatment she did while in detention.
For simply demanding political and social change, Chinese authorities have repeatedly arrested this wife and mother of three.
Her most recent detention stems from her 2009 protest of the detention of Liu Xiaobo, a prominent human rights defender in China and the recipient of the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize. She has also been a strong advocate for women’s reproductive rights and the victims of forced evictions in Shanghai.
We’ve been told that since being home, Mao’s condition has improved slightly. She regained consciousness and has started to walk and talk again slowly. We couldn’t be more relieved to hear this news and hope that her progress continues.
But even though Mao’s condition may continue to improve, Amnesty International will not let her wounds be forgotten.