Good news: Mao Hengfeng released

Mao Hengfeng, a human rights defender in China, was sentenced to ‘Re-education Through Labour’ on 30 October 2012. It was the latest in a series of detentions dating back to 2004 because of her work standing up for human rights.

The good news is that on 8 February 2013 she was released to serve the rest of her term at home. She wants to thank everyone who campaigned on her behalf. Her husband Wu Xuewei believes she is now home again due to the international and domestic calls for her release.

Resting at home

Mao Hengfeng, who suffers from poor health, is now resting at home with her family. She told us how on 30 September last year she was in Beijing to celebrate the Mid-Autumn festival. While there, she was followed by 20 men in plain clothes. She tried to hide, but they found her and punched and kicked her and pushed her to the ground. She was forced into a van and taken to Yangpu police station in Shanghai for questioning. A month later she was sentenced.

During her detention she was held in solitary confinement in a dark cell without windows and was not given access to clean hot water until her health worsened.

Human rights in China

It is great news that Mao Hengfeng has been released, but her experiences are all too common. There is a loose but growing network of activists, lawyers and intellectuals who are demanding change in China.

One of those is Gao Zhisheng, one of China's most respected human rights lawyers. He disappeared in February 2009 after police took him from his family home where he was being held under illegal house arrest. For nearly two years his family didn’t know if he was dead or alive.

In December 2011, Chinese state media announced that Gao had been jailed. In January 2013, after we campaigned for his release, Gao was allowed a visit from his family for the first time in nine months.

After the visit his wife, Geng He, told us:

‘It is a small improvement, but it could not be achieved without the international community’s concerns and the effort and support from the membership of Amnesty International, for which my family and I feel most grateful. I hope Amnesty International will continue to promote this activity, allowing more people to come to know my husband’s situation, until he gains his freedom.’

We are still calling for Gao’s release. Please take a few moments to send a letter to the Chinese Premier urging him to set Gao free.

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