Shanghaiist recently saw this RFA report (in Chinese, and not normally accessible within China) about the continuing struggles of the property rights protesters and hunger strikers in Shanghai. It says that on February 17 five protesters left Shanghai for Beijing, where they planned to continue their housing related petitions. On the 24th, they were caught and forcibly taken back to Shanghai, where they have been held in administrative detention since. Among them was Liu Xinjuan, who was sent to the Minhang district mental asylum shortly after arriving back in Shanghai. According to someone the RFA interviewed, Liu is actually not crazy, despite what seems to be patent evidence to the contrary: her actions reveal a (delusional) belief that social justice and political liberties exist in China.
This is the fourth time since 2003 that she’s been sent to the loony bin, where she has spent a total of 250 days. We listened to a recording of some RFA interviews and Dr. Cheng, who works at the asylum, refused to reveal her exact condition. However, when the reporter asked if Liu had been exhibiting any abnormal behavior, the good doctor replied, “Of course, why else would she be in here?” Touche! (We just read a similar remark from a Foreign Ministry spokeman in an article about the upholding of a twelve-year jail sentence for dissident Xu Wanping: “I’m sure that nobody in China would be arrested or detained because of their ideas or any proposals that are not illegal,” spokesman Liu Jianchao told reporters.” Thanks Liu, that’s a relief to know!
The RFA is portraying this as a general crackdown that commenced February 15, when Shanghai’s housing rights protesters began to take part in the larger hunger strikes that Beijing based lawyer Gao Zhisheng started several weeks ago. The Shanghai authorities have been keeping a close eye on the troublemakers, with some being under virtual house arrest. They suspected a man named Wang Lizhuang as being the ringmaster behind the trips to Beijing, so they went to his house, confiscated his computers and took some other pieces of “evidence” as well. Some of the protesters are now completely incommunicado. Shanghaiist met many of these people last summer, when we ran into their protests outside the Portman. One of them, who had just been released sometime in August or September, was a woman named Ma Yalian. We waited outside the place she had been held for her release. Just prior to our arrival, some of the protesters that had shown up in solidarity had been whisked away in a police van. For our own safety, we were told to leave, and we were able to meet Ma Yalian later and interview her briefly. Hopefully we’ll get that audio file to you at some point, but for now content yourselves with the RFA interview.
Also on Shanghaiist:
Hunger strike detentions continue in Shanghai
There’s something happening here …