China: Woman protesting at forced abortion may face further torture for not acknowledging

It is thought Mao’s refusal to confess to any "wrongdoing", even under torture, or to sign documents acknowledging that she had undergone "thought reform" in detention, are factors which may have contributed to the extension of her sentence. In addition, officials at the camp have reportedly told Mao that her family visits and telephone privileges will be reduced if she continues to refuse to "confess".

Mao Hengfeng was forced to have an abortion and dismissed from her job when she became pregnant for a third time 15 years ago, in contravention of China’s family-planning policies. Since then she has repeatedly complained to the authorities, using official procedures, about her dismissal and her treatment by the police. Because of this, she has been detained several times and forcibly confined in psychiatric hospitals, where she has been forced to undergo shock therapy.

In April 2004 Mao Hengfeng was sent to 18 months’ "re-education through labour" because of her persistence in petitioning the authorities. She has reportedly been tortured on at least two occasions: in October 2004, she was tied up, suspended from a ceiling and beaten; in November 2004, she had straps tied to her wrists and ankles, and her limbs were pulled in different directions by officials at the camp demanding that she acknowledge her "wrongdoing". This was continued over a period of two days.

According to the NGO Human Rights in China, Mao’s sentence extension was authorised in late December by "people in a senior position". Mao and her family were reportedly not permitted to see the documents authorising her sentence extension.

Amnesty International receives numerous reports of torture and ill-treatment taking place in a wide variety of state institutions across China, including police stations, prisons and "re-education through labour" camps. Common methods of torture include kicking, beating, electric shocks, suspension by the arms, shackling in painful positions, and deprivation of sleep and food. Torture and ill-treatment such as forced abortions and sterilizations have also been reported as a result of China’s family-planning policies.

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