It was about a month ago that Shanghaiist reported on one of the housing protesters, Liu Xinjuan, who was sent to a mental asylum after trying to get her case heard in Beijing. Radio Free Asia (RFA) reports (in Chinese) that she was released after a spell of 15 days in the asylum. According to Liu, there were a couple of times when the authorities were poised to let her go, only to realize that since another government conference was coming up, they would have to keep her locked up to make sure she didn’t make a scene. These are the Kafkaesque words of her captors: “本来想放你出去，但现在还有一个会要开，你出去他们还得抓你.” (“I was planning on letting you go, but now there’s another conference, so if we let you go we’d just have to catch you again.”) That article has stories of other people, not just housing or tenants’ rights activists, who have been threatened with a stay in the loony bin as well.
RFA has another report about a housing rights protester who died on March 19. He evidently died of brain hemorraghing, which his widow believes is a result of beatings he endured. The widow went with their daughter and a picture of him to government offices, where they and other supporters gathered and demanded some information, and were subsequently harrassed by the police.
The most recent RFA report (again, in Chinese) is about Chang Daojun, a 51 year-old man who committed suicide last Sunday at or near his home on Xizang Xi Lu. According to that report, his house was slated for destruction for the upcoming World Expo and he couldn’t come to an agreement with the authorities, so they stopped his water, electricity and sewage. There were the usual threats, and as a result he attempted suicide at least once before this latest (last) one. The report says the body has not yet been released. Read or listen to RFA’s series on this for more information, including audio interviews. These reports claim that the much of the media’s ballyhoo about how eager the people who had their houses razed for the World Expo were to sign the dotted line on the offer the government made them is actually false, with people being hired to act as if they were waiting in line to sign off on their agreements. Unfortunately, of course, there is precious little information about this in the media, Chinese or otherwise, so we weren’t able to cross-check this information against other sources — take it for what it’s worth.
Photo from www.gerrymccann.com.