Sun, Jan 22, 2006 - Page 5 News List

Activist placed in mental home: reports

AP , BEIJING

Chinese police allegedly bound and gagged an activist and then forced her into a psychiatric hospital after she attempted to petition the government over forced land seizures, a US-based rights group said yesterday.

Liu Xinjuan was one of several people detained on Jan. 16 in Shanghai as they prepared to take their grievances to the local legislature, New York-based Human Rights in China (HRIC) said.

Liu, a longtime activist, has petitioned the government several times with residents' complaints that authorities demolished their homes without consulting them and that they were not properly compensated.

China's legal system offers little recourse in such cases, prompting many to take petitions directly to central or local authorities as permitted by law.

However, rights groups frequently report that Chinese authorities try to block such complaints by preventing disgruntled people from traveling or detaining them when they arrive.

Liu was gathering with several other petitioners in Shanghai's Jingan Park when police arrived, bundling her into a car and taking her to a police station in Qibao Town, Minhang District, HRIC said in a statement, citing sources it didn't identify.

Later that night, Liu was taken, bound and gagged, to Beiqiao psychiatric hospital in Minhang District, the group said.

According to Liu's son, Feng Liangxi, who visited his mother at the hospital, her body and face were covered with bruises.

She was also unable to move her left hand due to an injury, HRIC quoted Feng as saying.

A woman reached by phone at the psychiatric hospital confirmed Liu had been brought in on Jan. 16. She refused to give her name, and hung up when asked to comment further.

An official who answered the phone at the police station in Qibao refused to comment on the incident.

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