April 20, 2024

Chinese psychiatric hospitals used to incarcerate political opponents

Situation gets worse with financial pressures on hospitals

Chinese petitioners, troublemakers and
corruption whistleblowers are being locked up in psychiatric institutions,
according to the BMJ. Liu Feiyue, founder of Civil Rights and
Livelihood Watch, says that he has documented more than 500 cases.

“When normal citizens are put into
psychiatric hospitals the situation is very grave. They are often
forced to take medicine or injections, and when they don’t cooperate
they report being bound, beaten up, force fed and
electrocuted,” Liu says. “As social conflicts in China
have intensified in recent years the number of petitioners has
increased and so has the number of normal citizens being incarcerated
in psychiatric hospitals.”

Part of the problem is that sweeping
economic changes in China have left psychiatric hospitals short of money.
Incarcerating inconvenient people for a fee is one way to make ends meet.
“Treatment is only available when there is someone willing to pay.
If they have the money and the motive they can send someone to
psychiatric hospital,” says Huang Xuetao, a lawyer who handles involuntary
psychiatric commitment.

In addition to hospitals run by the
Ministry of Health, there are at least 23 others run by the Public Security
Bureau. All of the staff, including doctors and nurses, are members of the
police. Like the old Soviet psychiatric system on which it has been modelled, these
institutions are used for locking away political dissidents.

The BMJ says that abuse of psychiatry has
received very little attention in the world media, apart from complaints about
Falun Gong members. However, the number of politically troublesome people
locked away in asylums is likely to be greater than the persecuted Falun Gong
sect. ~ BMJ,
June 25

Michael Cook
human rights