Chinese union activist sent to mental hospital

jenyan1 jenyan1 at
Mon Dec 18 11:57:02 MST 2000

There was more coverage of this on the BBC news website....
Chinese union activist sent to mental hospital
John Gittings in Hong Kong
Sunday December 17 2000
The Observer

A Chinese labour leader has been sent to a psychiatric hospital for
organising a protest against factory layoffs in the eastern province of
Jiangsu. His detention came after he was interviewed about the dispute by
foreign journalists.

Human rights groups in touch with local activists in Yancheng town say
that Cao Maobing, an unofficial labour organiser at a silk factory where
half the workers had been laid off, is being detained by the police at the
town's Number 4 psychiatric hospital.

In an interview last week with the Voice of America radio station, Mr Cao,
an electrician, said that his independent union wanted to protect workers'
rights but not to subvert Communist party rule.

According to the Human Rights Information Centre in Hong Kong, he defied
the authorities last month by requesting official recognition of the

The Chinese government usually condemns efforts to organise outside the
official trade union framework as undermining "national stability" or
plotting against the state.

China Labour Watch in New York said that it had received telephone calls
from his fellow-workers at the Funing silk factory. One reported that the
hospital was trying to force Mr Cao "to take medicine for the insane".

Concern at the use of psychiatric hospitals to silence dissenting voices
has begun to spill over into the Chinese press, in spite of the political
sensitivity of the subject. A civil servant in Shandong province is
demanding compensation for being certified as suffering from "persistent
mental illness" after she made claims about corruption by her superiors.

The case was reported last week by the popular Yangcheng Evening News
under the headline: "Does a work unit have the right to ask for a
diagnosis of mental illness?"

By contrast, allegations by the proscribed Falun Gong sect that many of
its members have been sent to psychiatric hospitals have not been given
press coverage. In official denunciation, of the sect its adherents are
frequently described as unstable people who may hurt themselves or others
unless restrained.

Teng Chunyan, a Chinese citizen resident in the US, was jailed for three
years last week for allegedly smuggling information about Falun Gong
members held in a psychiatric hospital to the foreign press.

Copyright Guardian Newspapers Limited

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