Authorities in Shanghai detained a prominent female activist on Monday and assigned her to seven days administrative detention. Mao Hengfeng has, since 2004, repeatedly been detained for her work defending women’s reproductive rights and housing rights.
Amnesty International has called for her immediate release. “Mao Hengfeng is being arbitrarily detained for exercising her right to protest peacefully. She should be immediately and unconditionally released,” said Sam Zarifi, Amnesty International’s Asia-Pacific director.
Mao Hengfeng and her daughter were taken by police from outside the Shanghai Municipal People’s Congress meeting on Monday. They were there with 100 other Shanghai residents attempting to ask the congressional representatives to address the issue of forced evictions and other human rights abuses in the city.
The police had sealed off the venue and the protestors were held at a distance. Mao Hengfeng shouted: ‘Shanghai representatives, you should serve your people. Come listen to us! We want democracy and freedom, and an end to torture!’
The police seized Mao Hengfeng and her daughter, together with several other protesters, and drove them to an unknown detention facility. Everyone else was sent home at midnight, but Mao was transferred to Daqiao police station. The police then issued a notice to her family stating that she will be held for seven days for ‘disturbing public order’.
After visiting Mao Hengfeng on Tuesday, her family say that the police had not fed her, and it was obvious from her appearance that she had been beaten.
Mao Hengfeng was sentenced to two and half year’s imprisonment in January 2007 for “intentionally damaging property”. She was released on 29 November 2008.
While in prison, she was tortured. She is now suffering from high blood pressure, constant pain from injuries caused by torture, a skin infection from unsanitary conditions in detention and chronic stomach ache. Since her release, the authorities have been closely monitoring her.