Lecturer Sent to Mental Hospital

The law professor had criticized the ruling Chinese Communist Party's grip on power.
2012-12-11
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A file photo of a patient suffering from mental illness receiving a transfusion with bound feet at a psychiatric hospital in Fuzhou.
EyePress News

Authorities in the eastern Chinese province of Zhejiang have had an outspoken professor who talked to his students about the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre forcibly committed to a psychiatric facility, rights groups and fellow activists said on Tuesday.

Professor Wang Peijian, who teaches at China Jiliang University in Hangzhou, initially resisted being forced into a psychiatric hospital by authorities for expressing “politically sensitive” opinions in class over the past few weeks, the China Human Rights Defenders (CHRD) said in an e-mailed statement.

Wang was informed by a school administrator on Dec. 7 that his classes would be suspended beginning the next day.

"Wang believed that this was because he had spoken to students about his views on, among other topics, the [ruling] Chinese Communist Party’s monopoly on power, the 1989 massacre around Tiananmen Square, and suppression of human rights lawyers," CHRD said.

Comments reported

Hangzhou-based writer Zan Aizong, who is a close friend of Wang's, said Wang had managed to evade psychiatric committal for a while by locking himself inside a room.

"Wang Peijian called me a number of times ... and he told me the school had contacted his brother to try to get him to go along with the school in having him taken to a mental hospital," Zan said.

Wang Peijian had also said that his comments to students that the ruling Communist Party should relinquish power had probably been reported by his students to the authorities, he added.

"The school thought he must be having a mental breakdown, or that his mood must be unstable, and that they should suspend his classes and have him taken to a psychiatric unit," Zan said.

The school's security personnel later succeeded in taking Wang to the No. 7 Hangzhou Psychiatric Hospital, according to sources close to the family.

Brother helped officials

Wang's brother, Wang Zhuangjian, said he was unable to manage the situation without help, and confirmed that he had collaborated with school security officials.

"Everything went pretty smoothly, with a minimum of physical resistance," he said. "We have already taken the measures most likely to protect my brother."

According to a post on the popular Sina Weibo microblogging service by Beijing-based legal scholar Teng Biao, Wang had been a founding member of the banned opposition China Democracy Party (CDP).

Trained in law, Wang had been refused a license to practice as a lawyer after he graduated and finished his law firm apprenticeship, Teng said.

"He had divorced a few months ago ... and was under huge psychological pressure," Teng's post said.

Routine abuse

Chinese psychiatric patients are routinely subjected to abuse of their rights in a system that makes scant distinction between different kinds of mental illness, according to a recent report by CHRD.

While reports have become more widespread in recent years of the incarceration of rights activists and petitioners in psychiatric institutions for political reasons, genuine mental health patients are also highly vulnerable to abuses under the current system, the group said.

The report, titled "The Darkest Corners," detail the grim conditions and human rights abuses faced by people who are committed to psychiatric care against their will, even if they do not pose a demonstrable threat of harm to themselves or to others.

Reported by Fang Yuan for RFA's Mandarin service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.