Authorities in the central Chinese province of Hunan have detained the father of a woman incarcerated in a psychiatric hospital for splashing ink on a poster of President Xi Jinping, after he tried to visit her.
Dong Yaoqiong was sent for "compulsory treatment" after she streamed live video of herself splashing ink on a poster of President Xi in protest at "authoritarian tyranny" on July 4.
She is being held as a psychiatric patient in a women's ward in Hunan's Zhuzhou No. 3 Hospital, where her father, Dong Jianbiao, was detained when he tried to visit her on Wednesday.
"Our initial guess about the reason [for his detention] is that Dong Jianbiao had been under house arrest, with restrictions on his freedom, back home, and then he suddenly disappeared for two to three days," rights activist Chen Siming said.
"He managed to evade surveillance by the local police and village officials."
Police also summoned Chen and fellow rights activists Yi Zhouquan and Ou Biaofeng for questioning in connection with their support for Dong Yaoqiong.
"I was called in for questioning yesterday," Chen told RFA. "Ou Biaofeng and Yi Zhouquan were taken in at around 1.00 a.m. this morning, and they haven't gotten out yet."
Chen said police had issued veiled warnings about the possible negative impact of his activism on his family, asking questions about his son.
"They were trying to frighten me," he said.
Called in by police
Meanwhile, rights lawyer Wen Donghai said he had been called into the local police station and asked to make a statement after he tried to visit Dong Yaoqiong in hospital after being hired by her father to represent her.
"There is a guy in the hospital by the name of Feng Yong who has been making it difficult for us by insisting on proof that Dong Yaoqiong and Dong Jianbiao are father and daughter," Wen told RFA. "But the relationship between them is clearly established, and we have handed over all of the relevant proof to the authorities."
"In the end, they just said that they wouldn't even see me ... and that I had no formal instruction [as her lawyer]," he said. "Then they called the police on me and accused me of insulting them, so I am at the police station making a statement now."
Wen said he hadn't been given permission to visit Dong Yaoqiong.
"I didn't get to see her, because Dong Jianbiao was immediately detained when we went there today, they said on suspicion of 'harming state security'," he said. "The police took him away, and we don't know where he was taken."
Dong Jianbiao said in a statement issued before his detention that Dong Yaoqiong's mother had signed the papers committing her daughter to the psychiatric hospital "without truly understanding the situation."
"I don't believe my daughter Dong Yaoqiong to be suffering from any form of mental illness," the statement said. "I wish to visit my daughter ... [and] I wish to view her medical records in their entirety."
"In the event that there is a medical condition needing treatment, I do not give my consent for my daughter to be treated at the Zhuzhou No. 3 Hospital," Dong wrote. "I want to take my daughter ... home."
Dong Jianbiao had earlier engaged Wen Donghai to work for his daughter's release from the hospital, but the authorities switched the case against her from a criminal to a civil matter, invalidating the lawyer's letter of appointment.
Wen said his license clearly indicates that he has the right to take cases not involving litigation.
Dong Yaoqiong's incarceration in the Zhuzhou No. 3 Hospital, a psychiatric institution, comes after she accused the authorities of "persecutory brain control," an allegation some activists have said could be linked to attempts to disorient her through psychiatric medication or even technology.
"There is a portrait of Xi Jinping behind me," she said in the video. "What I want to say is that I am using my real name to oppose Xi Jinping's tyranny and dictatorship, and the oppressive brain control perpetrated on me by the Chinese Communist Party." She then threw the ink across Xi's image on the poster and shouted her slogans again.
Dong Yaoqiong, who had reported being under surveillance by the authorities for around a year, later said via her @feefeefly Twitter account that there were uniformed men outside her apartment. Her Twitter account was later deleted.
Her supporter Li Huaping said via Twitter that Dong had been taken away from the hospital briefly on Sunday, possibly for interrogation by the police.
Reported by Yang Fan for RFA's Mandarin Service, and by Ng Yik-tung and Sing Man for the Cantonese Service. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.