China’s psychiatric hospitals collude with officials to stifle dissent, say civil rights’ groups

BMJ 2010; 340 doi: (Published 25 June 2010) Cite this as: BMJ 2010;340:c3371
  1. Jane Parry,
  2. Weiyuan Cui
  1. 1Hong Kong and Geneva

    In 2003, Xu Lindong, a farmer from Yancheng county, Henan province, China, decided to file a petition in Beijing to help his neighbour protest about maltreatment at the hands of local officials in a land dispute. Xu never filed his petition. On the outskirts of Beijing he was intercepted by a Daliu township government official and a policeman, taken home, and subsequently incarcerated in Zhumadian Psychiatric Hospital, Henan, at the request of township and county government officials.

    Six and a half years later in April 2010, Xu was released from Luohe Psychiatric Hospital, also in Henan province, where he had spent the last five months of his ordeal, after being transferred there from Zhumadian Hospital. When he met the media he described barbaric treatment while in hospital, including being given electric shocks 54 times and being forced to take chlorprothixene and chlordiazepoxide, drugs which made him feel faint and dizzy.

    Xu’s family did not know what had happened to him until July 2007. “Someone from his home town visited other patients in the same hospital as Xu and he managed to ask the visitor to get a message to his family,” says Xu’s lawyer Chang Boyang. The family tried to secure his release but it was only when journalists brought the case to the attention of the lawyer Chang that …

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