China : Rights Activist Mao Hengfeng Starts Hunger Strike in Reeducation-Through-Labor Camp
Shanghai-based petitioner and rights defender Mao Hengfeng has started a hunger strike at the Hefei Municipal Women’s Reeducation-Through-Labor (RTL) Camp, her lawyer Liu Peifu told Human Rights in China. Liu said that Mao was protesting the haircut that was forced upon her and the uniform she was required to wear.Liu and Mao’s husband, Wu Xuewei , went to visit Mao at the camp on May 24, 2010, but only Liu was allowed in.This was the first time Liu had been permitted to see Mao since she was first detained three months earlier. The camp authorities told Wu that he would not be permitted to see his wife as long as she disobeys camp rules.
Liu said that Mao was very weak and unable to stand up. She requested to be returned to Shanghai and authorized Liu to file an administrative suit with the Shanghai Municipal People’s Court of Huangpu District to overturn the RTL decision. Liu said that the RTL camp officials redacted much of the contents in the authorization document written by Mao before allowing him to take it from the camp.
In March 2010, Mao was ordered by Shanghai authorities to serve one-and-a-half years of RTL for “disturbing social order” by shouting slogans outside a Beijing Court. She began serving in the Shanghai Women’s RTL Camp, but was transferred to Hefei on April 27, 2010, more than 600 kilometers from Shanghai.
In January of 2009, Mao was detained for seven days for shouting slogans. This occurred just two months after her release from the Shanghai Women’s Prison, where she had served a two-and-a-half-year prison term for breaking two lamps while under residential surveillance.
In 1988, Mao was fired from her job for refusing to abort a second pregnancy. After that experience, Mao became a petitioner. For her activism, she has been forced into psychiatric hospitals by the authorities many times, and suffered many types of abuse and torture while imprisoned in the Shanghai Women’s Prison.