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China: female activist detained and beaten

Human rights activist Mao Hengfeng has been detained and reportedly beaten after protesting about forced evictions in Shanghai. The Shanghai Public Security Bureau yesterday sentenced Mao, 48, to seven days administrative detention.

Mao Hengfeng and her daughter were taken by police from outside the Shanghai Municipal People’s Congress meeting on 12 January. They were there with 100 other Shanghai residents calling for action on the issue of forced evictions and other human rights abuses in the city. The police sealed off the venue and the protestors were held at a distance. Mao Hengfeng shouted: 'Shanghai representatives, you should serve your people. Come listen to us! We want democracy and freedom, and an end to torture!'

The police seized Mao Hengfeng and her daughter, together with several other protesters, and drove them to an unknown detention facility. At midnight everyone else was sent home, but Mao was transferred to Daqiao police station. The police then issued a notice to her family stating that she will be held for seven days for 'disturbing public order'.

After visiting Mao Hengfeng earlier today, her family say that the police had not fed her, and it was obvious from her appearance that she had been beaten.

Sam Zarifi, Amnesty International’s Asia-Pacific director, said:

“Mao Hengfeng is being arbitrarily detained for exercising her right to protest peacefully. She should be immediately and unconditionally released.”

Chinese authorities have repeatedly detained and tortured Mao Hengfeng for her work defending Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights’s reproductive rights and housing rights.

In 1989 Mao Hengfeng was forced to have an abortion and dismissed from her job at a Shanghai soap factory, when she became pregnant for the third time. She has been protesting through official channels ever since, and in April 2004 was sent to 18 months’ “re-education through labour” because of her persistence in petitioning the authorities.

In November 2004 police reportedly bound her wrists and ankles with leather straps and then pulled her limbs in different directions in a mediaeval “rack” style, while demanding that she acknowledge her “wrongdoing”. This was continued over two days. In January 2007, she was sentenced to two and half year’s imprisonment for "intentionally damaging property". She was released on 29 November 2008. While in prison she was tortured.

She is now suffering from high blood pressure, constant pain from injuries caused by torture, a skin infection from unsanitary conditions in detention and a chronic stomach complaint. The authorities have been closely monitoring her since she was last released.

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