UPDATE: Chinese human rights defender, Mao Hengfeng, has unexpectedly been released. She was sent home in a wheelchair and had been severely beaten. The police are currently restricting her freedom of movement.
Mao Hengfeng had first-hand experience in forced abortion in the late 1980's. Since then, she has called attention to forced abortions and forced evictions in China. She has been detained repeatedly. She was in prison between January 2007 and November 2008. While in detention, she was tortured and ill-treated by the authorities.
The most recent detention of Mao Hengfeng stems from her 2009 protest of the detention of Liu Xiaobo, a prominent human rights defender in China and the recipient of the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize. On December 25, 2009, Mao Hengfeng protested outside the court building in Beijing where Liu Xiaobo was on trial. She was taken by police on February 24, 2010 from the Beijing motel where she was staying. The police notified her family on March 8, 2010 that Mao Hengfeng was given 18 months Re-education Through Labor (RTL) for "disturbing social order" due to her actions in December 2009.
Mao Hengfeng outside a petition office in Shanghai with her three daughters ©Private
At an appeal hearing on July 21, 2010, Mao Hengfeng reported that the RTL facility officers have instructed other inmates many times to beat her. On most occasions, more than a dozen inmates were involved. In addition to the beatings, Mao Hengfeng was kept in unsanitary conditions and she was forced to work at the RTL facility dumping ground.
Mao Hengfeng, was released on medical parole due to high blood pressure on February 22, 2011. On February 24 she was arrested on the grounds of having violated the terms for medical parole. She is being held at Shanghai City Prisons Hospital, where her family fears that she may be suffering from torture or ill-treatment. She was previously held at the hospital in 2008, when she was tied to a bed, force-fed and given several injections against her will. Her family is not allowed to visit her.
Amnesty International considers Mao Hengfeng to be a prisoner of conscience, detained solely for her peaceful activities to defend human rights.
Aside from high blood pressure, Mao Hengfeng has serious injuries caused by the torture she suffered in detention. Mao Hengfeng had been repeatedly beaten and denied access to showers or toilets for long periods of time. She has partially lost feeling on the left half of her body. Shortly before her release, a doctor found signs of bleeding in her brain from a CT scan.
After she was released on February 22, 2011, she celebrated with friends at a restaurant. Thereafter she was prevented from leaving her house. On February 23 she attempted to visit a doctor but was stopped by police. According to her family, she did not confront the police and stayed at home.