“The Darkest Corners”:Abuses of Involuntary Psychiatric Commitment in China Image Gallery by Chinese Human Rights Defenders
Violent Abuse Suffered DuringForced CommitmentsSince 2007, Zhu Yongjian, a petitionerfrom Jiangsu Province, has beenforcibly committed five times bygovernment authorities for challenginga court decision. Zhu told Civil Rightsand Livelihood Watch (CRLW) that hewas diagnosed with “paranoia” andwas abused every time he was broughtto the hospital. For example, Zhurevealed that during his fourthdetention, “they forcibly inserted anasal tube and forced the medicationthrough. After the medicine has gonedown, my throat was very painful. Thishappened twice…later, I quit and wenton a hunger strike, but they gave mean intravenous drip. The nurse said,‘You want to die? It’s not that easy .’”(credit: CRLW)
False “Evidence” of Mental Illness,No Legal RecourseA police notice indicates that ZhongYafang had been involuntarily committedfor “disturbing social order” at apsychiatric hospital in Hangzhou, whereshe was detained for nearly 20 monthsafter petitioning over a medical accident.The police institutionalized Zhong afterasking a hospital to conduct anevaluation of her mental health statusand obtaining “evidence” of her mentalillness. Like all those involuntarilycommitted in China, Zhong had no accessto a judge and an independent reviewmechanism to wage an appeal. She washeld in the hospital until July 2011.(credit: CRLW)
Illegally Committed for Seeking Explanation Over Job LossOfficials in Wuhan, Hubei Province illegally detained Liu Caixia in the psychiatric wardof the Huashan Town Health Clinic in 2010. Liu was seized while petitioning in Beijingafter losing her accountant position at a university without any formal explanation.(credit: HRCC)
Reliving Pain in Public ProtestIn July 2011, former patient Chen Guoming carried out a protest in a Beijing park toraise public awareness about China’s involuntary commitment system. Chen reenactedthe experience of his family members binding him with tape and taking him against hiswill to a psychiatric hospital. The message on the ground reads, “Anyone may be‘made mentally ill’.” (credit: Equity & Justice Initiative)
Over Five Years of IllegalCommitment ExposedFrom Wuhan, Hubei Province, Xu Wuwas illegally detained for nearly fiveyears in psychiatric hospitals aftersuing his employer over unequal payfor iron and steel workers. In 2006,while petitioning authorities in Beijing,he was caught by Wuhan policeofficers and staff from his company.They committed Xu in the hospitaluntil Xu’s escape to Guangzhou in2011, and he then appeared on atelevision program and talked abouthis ordeal. Xu’s story generatedwidespread concern in China for theabuses of the involuntary commitmentsystem. (credit: CRLW)
Pleading for Help From OutsideWorldCalling out for help from apsychiatric hospital, Peng Yongkangwas petitioning in Beijing whenofficials forcibly took her back toWuhan in March 2008 andinstitutionalized her. She iscurrently being held in Wuhan CityJiangxia District ChukangPsychiatric Hospital. (credit: CRLW)
Illegal Commitment, Forced MedicationPetitioner Li Yuqing of Inner Mongolia was held for nearly a month in a psychiatrichospital after expressing a grievance in Beijing in the summer of 2011. While detained,Li, who does not have any mental illness, was reportedly forced to take medicationagainst her will. (credit: HRCC)
Forcibly Committed by FamilyThis “Consent Form to CommissionTreatment” from Guangzhou BaiyunPsychiatric Hospital was signed by ZouYijun’s mother and brother, whokidnapped and forcibly brought her tothe institution. The hospital allowedZou’s family to act as her “guardian” toauthorize her admittance andtreatment even though Zou has neverbeen declared legally incompetent by acourt. According to the form, if apatient dies or is injured for reasonsrelated to “the particularity ofpsychiatric treatment,” the “guardian”agrees that the hospital should bear noresponsibility. Variants of this form arewidely used by China’s psychiatrichospitals. On this form, Zou’s familymade up the name “Han Li” for her.
No Legal Capacity Leads toUnsuccessful Lawsuit AfterInvoluntary CommitmentIn April 2008, after Zhou Mingde was beaten unconscious and taken to the ShanghaiPsychiatric Hospital by the hospital’s staff as well as his wife and son, he was held thereagainst his will for 66 days for “paranoia.” Zhou later sued the hospital, but a court ruledthat Zhou’s legal capacity to act as plaintiff was questionable because he washospitalized and diagnosed with a mental illness. Chinese courts sometimes assume thatindividuals with psychosocial disabilities have no legal capacity, and thus deny them theright to sue hospitals and individuals who authorize involuntary commitment.
Psychiatric Institution in Hubei ProvinceA number of individuals whose cases are mentioned in CHRD’s report have beendetained in Wudong No.2 Psychiatric Hospital in Wuhan City. (credit: CRLW)