Authorities in the central Chinese province of Hunan have sent a woman who streamed live video of herself splashing ink on a poster of Chinese president Xi Jinping to a psychiatric hospital for compulsory "treatment," RFA has learned.
Dong Yaoqiong streamed the live video of herself splashing ink on the ruling Chinese Communist Party propaganda poster in protest at "authoritarian tyranny" on July 4.
Sources told RFA that she is now being held as a psychiatric patient in a women's ward in Hunan's Zhuzhou No. 3 Hospital.
However, an employee who answered the phone at the hospital on Monday said she had no record of Dong Yaoqiong.
"Hi, we don't have anyone by the name of Dong Yaoqiong here on the women's ward; I can't find it," the employee said.
But Zhuzhou-based rights activist Chen Siming told RFA that Dong Yaoqiong's father Dong Jianbiao had recently visited his daughter in a private room in the hospital, where she is under round-the-clock surveillance.
"I can tell you for certain that she is an in-patient at Zhuzhou No. 3 Hospital, which is a psychiatric institution," Chen said. "Dong Yaoqiong's father Dong Jianbiao has arrived in Zhuzhou, and has seen his daughter, and even had a conversation with her."
"Dong Jianbiao says that his daughter is perfectly well, and is in a private room under 24-hour surveillance," he said. "He told me that his daughter has no mental illness whatsoever; Dong Jianbiao's brother, nephew and sister-in-law all say the same; that she's not sick."
Dong Yaoqiong's incarceration on a psychiatric ward 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.
Dong Yaoqiong's protest, and a string of copy-cat protests that it inspired, has sparked rumors in political circles of a backlash against a growing personality cult around Xi within the ranks of the ruling Chinese Communist Party leadership.
Three days after her disappearance on July 5, copies of directives ordering the removal of all public posters of Xi from public places in Shanghai and Beijing began to circulate on WeChat.
Dong Jianbiao was himself later detained by state security police after he posted a video to social media identifying himself as her father, while Beijing-based artist Hua Yong was also detained for questioning and later released, possibly under surveillance.
Meanwhile, police in the southern city of Guangzhou are holding He Guokuang, an outspoken artist and political activist who goes by the nickname Cangying, under criminal detention.
Chen Siming said he and two fellow activists from Hunan were called in for questioning by police and warned not to speak out on Dong Yaoqiong's behalf.
One of the activists, Dong Bin, was held under administrative detention for 10 days for "using a cell phone and a computer to support the ink-splashing protest via the overseas platform Twitter."
Dong Bin said he had launched a Twitter campaign in support of Dong Yaoqiong on July 23, saying that the authorities were making a mountain out of a molehill over the ink-splashing protest.
"I wish the government wouldn't make such a big deal out of what is a trivial incident," Dong Bin said. "I am very angry about the way the local authorities reacted."
"She is suffering in there to an extent that most people can't even imagine, particularly since she was committed to the psychiatric hospital, when they started feeding her with medication," he said. "It's very hard to predict what will become of her."
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.