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China 23 August 2007

Blogger confined to psychiatric hospital against his will

Reporters Without Borders is outraged by the confinement of cyber-dissident and blogger He Weihua in a psychiatric hospital in the central province of Hunan against his will. Relatives interviewed by Reporters Without Borders denied that He has any kind of mental illness and said they thought his confinement was linked to what he has posted on his blog www.boxun.com/hero/hewh/.

"It is unacceptable that the Chinese authorities use such methods to silence citizens who have just expressed their views peacefully online," the press freedom organisation said. "We call on the central government to intervene with the Hunan authorities to obtain He’s release. How can the authorities expect us to believe that a mentally ill person is capable of detailed investigative reporting?

Reporters Without Borders added: "We fear that this case shows that the Chinese authorities have still not abandoned the use of punitive psychiatry against those who expose abuses and defy censorship."

He was confined against his will by the authorities in Hunan earlier this month after he posted an article on the Boxun site criticising an arbitrary increase in the price of pork by the provincial authorities. He also predicted the imminent collapse of the Communist Party as a result of internal corruption. He received a judicial summons from the Public Security Bureau after the article was posted in July.

A local State Security unit had previously raided and searched his home in Hengyang (in Hunan province) in June, taking his laptop computer and warning him that he would suffer dire consequences if he continue to write about human rights. His blog http://www.boxun.com/hero/hewh/ contains many investigative reports and comments critical of the authorities.

When reached by Radio Free Asia, He’s mother did not want to comment on his confinement, indicating that she thought her phone was tapped. She just said: "He is in a psychiatric hospital. He went there this month." But a relative contacted by Reporters Without Borders linked his confinement to his articles: "He has written an enormous number of articles on human rights, especially on Boxun. I think he has all the qualities of a person of sound mind."

This is not the first time he has been confined. Members of the State Security Bureau gave him injections against his will when he was placed in psychiatric hospital in December 2004. When he was run down by a motorcycle in September 2006, the driver warned him not to continue his human rights activities.




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