Picture of Zhang Wen He






Stylised images of street where ZWH bundled into a car / traffic / car


This man has been a democracy activist in China for 30 years.  His name is Zhang Wen He.


Last summer he was abducted here, by four men, in civilian clothes.


Zhang Wen He was walking down this Beijing street when the men shouted at him that he owed them money. They forced him into a car and drove off. They were policemen.


For a month no one knew where he was.











He was being detained here. A police-run mental hospital for the criminally insane.


These pictures, taken by a German photographer , show one of China's Ankang - mental hospitals often used to lock up politically inconvenient people like Zhang Wen He, alongside genuinely dangerous and disturbed mental patients.



Robin Munro

Human Rights Specialist / Author, ‘China’s Psychiatric Inquisition’






10:51:  It's the most effective way of silencing critics in China today. There's no measure  remotely approaching it in terms of severity and permanence


30:40: They're forcibly subjected to psychiatric medication and treatment plus the stigma of being falsely claimed to be dangerously mentally ill with other inmates that are indeed psychotically disturbed individuals.  




Zhang Wen He’s sister and brother-in-law with Chen Zerui, lawyer, at the Mo Shao Ping Law Firm


Shows passport and photo




Sister SYNCH








Zhang Wen He's sister says her brother has no mental health problems. Trying to get him released, she's come to one of Beijing’s few independent legal practices.


She says the family was asked to sign a document declaring Zhang mentally ill


SISTER: Zhang Wen He's son refused to sign, and the Police signed his name for him.


The documents the police showed her are more concerned with his politics than his health.


Sister: The Police showed me records of their questioning of my brother. He had said that he supported a multi party system and called the Olympics the "Fascist Games" I berated him for saying this kind of thing. He said he had been told it was just a chat and then he had to sign. And he said if he is imprisoned because of the Olympics then they are the fascist Olympics.







Zhang’s family says that he has offered to renounce everything he's written, but the authorities have now classified him as "dangerously psychotic". They won't let him out.



Family with Mo Shao Ping


























The family consulted Mo Shao Ping, a human rights lawyer.



We all thought we would be able to take him home, but the National Security Bureau said it was not up to them, and the city authorities had decided to send him to the Ankang hospital.


I was told that he would have stay for at least a year, perhaps longer, possibly for his whole life. I told them that our family would be able to take care of his treatment, but they didn’t agree.

It’s not the first time the family has suffered difficulties because of politics.



Democracy Wall archive








Democracy Wall today / Olympic posters and construction


In 1978 Zhang Wen He like thousands of others plastered posters on the short-lived Democracy Wall… that was the first time he was incarcerated in a mental hospital… force-fed pills, his hands tied behind his back, made to eat like a dog.


Today, the Democracy Wall is used as advertising space for the Beijing Olympics in August, when the Chinese government will trumpet how far it's come in 30 years.



Mo Shao Ping

Independent Lawyer









Mo Shao Ping agrees that Zhang’s problems are political. But even this well respected lawyer cannot help him, because his is not a criminal case. Under Chinese law he has no right to legal representation.



There are no legal principles which say how a lawyer may intervene and which organization he should negotiate with. We only have Zhang Wen He’s judicial trust deed, but we don’t have the power of attorney when he's in a mental hospital. So there's nothing we can do.


Robin Munro again SYNCH



The target of this kind of repressive treatment has shifted to more contemporary type trouble-makers. The whistle-blowers, complainants, petitioners and so forth. I believe it’s done very cynically. There’s no self-belief in the system – no belief that these people are really mentally ill, let alone dangerously.



Beijing petitioners




Beijing Tiananmen Square



Beijing train station


Last year, When Peng Yongkang challenged a court ruling over a domestic dispute, she was put in a psychiatric hospital in her home town of Wuhan for 492 days. On her release she came to Beijing to petition.


But the police followed her, and put her on a train back to Wuhan.


She was held again in a psychiatric ward, and has since disappeared.



View from train in Wuhan outskirts


Car trailing




Secret police trailing





Police on platform



We travelled to Wuhan to find out what had happened to her. Almost from arrival we were followed. This blue people-carrier trailed our movements for two days.


Three individuals we assumed were state police shadowed us constantly, so blatantly that it was clear the intention was that we would not be allowed to speak to anyone involved in the psychiatric hospital cases.


One family contacted was visited by police at 2.30 am and warned not to talk to us. A friend of another patient was placed under house arrest.


The police even followed us onto the platform as we left the town to speak to someone who had met Peng Yongkang and other complainants who had been forcibly held in psychiatric hospitals.



Liu Fei Yue

People’s Livelihood Watch







Peng  Yong Kang photo and testimony / mobile phone images of Wuhan Ankang













Liu Fei Yue at computer / pictures of other petitioners who have been  held in Wuhan Ankang: 1st photo Peng Yongkang (centre), Zou Guilan (right), Yang Chunfang (left, wasn’t an inmate herself)

2nd photo Yang Chunxiu








The only person who dared speak, was human rights activist Liu Fei Yue …, Peng Yongkang had given him an account of her 492 days incarceration, which he showed to us. These images were secretly taken in the Wuhan Ankang.


I hid my pills under my nails. When one of the female nurses realized, she swore at me and hit me. I said that I couldn’t take any more, and was ready to end my life.

Our cell is situated next to a big corridor, and is closed in by iron gates. It’s impossible to escape. Most of the patients are in here for murder.


What on earth is wrong with me that I must stay with murderers and arsonists in one cell, and those that persecute me can swear at me without any respect or hesitation? Is there a law in this world?


LFY 21:55 They tried to avoid taking their pills by keeping them in their mouth or throwing them away.  The pills made them feel dizzy and powerless.  Peng YongKang described how she had to hold on to the wall to support herself after taking them.


Liu Fei Yue has followed the case of Peng Yong Kang and others. She is one of a number of female petitioners to have been detained recently in the Wuhan psychiatric system.


LFY 11:36: We believed they were not mentally ill.  The core reason for them being kept away is that they've been constantly petitioning...local authorities thought their political achievements and image would be damaged.  It’s an easy solution is to keep petitioners in psychiatric institutions.



Dr Sun Dong Dong

Peking University















Dr Sun Dong Dong is drafting a new mental health law. He denies that psychiatry is systematically abused in China.



Some people’s political views are so far removed from reality and are too radical to change. Then their behaviour is abnormal and pathological. They may be considered as delirious.  Those you have interviewed may belong to this group of delirious people whose political faith is not connected to reality.


The Chinese government didn't respond to our questions. Hosting the Olympic Games was meant to encourage China to improve human rights… but those locked up in the Ankang have no rights at all.







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