A petitioner in the eastern Chinese province of Jiangsu has died suddenly amid an ongoing battle for redress over her treatment at the hands of local family planning officials, RFA has learned.
Feng Xiuqin, of Dongtai township in Jiangsu's Dongtai city died suddenly at home on Tuesday amid a campaign to free her husband, detained by the authorities for petitioning on behalf of the family in Beijing, her daughter Chen Fei said.
Chen said her parents had begun petitioning after giving birth to a second child this year, something that is allowed after China's one-child policy became a two-child policy at the start of the year.
"They were petitioning because my father was adopted, and they were acting within the two-child policy, but they didn't have enough money to give enough gifts as bribes, so the officials refused to issue [a birth permit]," Chen said.
"My mother went to talk with them, but was beaten up by the female [family planning bureau] director, who then locked my mother up in detention for four months," she said.
The lack of a birth permit led to large fines for the family, once Chen Fei's younger brother was born, she said.
"So my mother started to petition, but in 2009 she was sentenced to a year in labor camp on a trumped-up charge, during which she sustained a spinal fracture," Chen said.
"She was beaten up again in 2011 by local interceptors, thugs hired by our local government to track her to Beijing, which led to [brain damage]," she said.
Just before the ruling Chinese Communist Party's 19th national congress in October, Feng's husband Chen Chuntao made a trip to Beijing to lodge an official complaint on behalf of his wife, but was placed in criminal detention on charges of "extortion and blackmail," she said.
He was released after he signed a "guarantee" of his future good behavior.
But once Chen Chuntao arrived back home, the authorities redetained him and Feng, Chen said.
"They found a way to lure my father into the local detention center, then they detained my mother, and locked her up in the Yancheng city detention center for 10 days," she said. "My father has yet to be released."
"Yesterday morning, my mother died, of what the hospital said was sudden death. But in reality, it was because she spent every waking moment worrying about my father," Chen said.
Calls to the "stability maintenance"' office of the Dongtai township government rang unanswered during office hours on Wednesday.
Feng's nephew, who asked not to be named, said: "My aunt experienced psychological trauma because her husband was wrongly imprisoned."
"She couldn't sleep, and this took a toll of exhaustion on her health, and she died," he said.
Chen Fei's husband Zhu Donglian agreed, saying the local authorities kept promising that Chen Chuntao would be released.
"They kept lying to my mother-in-law, saying that her husband would be home soon," he said. "But they haven't let him go."
Reported by Qiao Long for RFA's Mandarin Service. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.