Thursday, September 17, 2009

Chinese Dissidents Committed to Mental Hospitals

The PBS Newshour reports on political dissidents and petitioners in China who are sentenced to psychiatric hospitals.

Special correspondent Shannon Van Sant reports:
SHANNON VAN SANT: ...I traveled to Wuhan to talk with another Chinese activist, Liu Feiyue, but he was under house arrest. Liu heads an NGO that is currently following 100 cases of wrongful psychiatric detention. Over the last three years, he says he knows of 500 more whistleblowers and protesters who have been detained in mental hospitals.

Robin Munro, who has extensively researched psychiatric detention in China and written two books on the topic, thinks the practice is widespread.

ROBIN MUNRO, human rights activist: China's experience in this area is far more serious and extensive than any other country.

SHANNON VAN SANT: Munro, who is based in Hong Kong, believes that since there are no national mental health laws protecting the rights of people who have been compulsorily hospitalized, but there are rules limiting arbitrary arrest, hospitals are becoming a convenient means of silencing protesters.

ROBIN MUNRO: Once diagnosed in this way, as dangerously mentally ill, citizens have no rights. They have no legal right to see a lawyer; they have no legal right to be brought before a judge so that a judicial determination can be made.

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