Olaf Scholz should push for the release of critically ill Chinese human rights activist

Human rights activist arrested again in Hamburg's sister city Shanghai

The Society for Threatened Peoples (STP) has asked the Mayor-elect of Hamburg, Olaf Scholz, to push for the release of a critically ill human rights activist in Shanghai. Fifty-year-old Mao Hengfeng is perhaps the best-known imprisoned human rights activist in Hamburg's Chinese sister city and a critic of the state's "one-child policy". She had been unexpectedly released for health reasons on 22 February 2011, six months before completing her sentence in a work camp. Just two days later, however, she was arrested again. "If only for humanitarian reasons, Mao Hengfeng should be released immediately," demanded Ulrich Delius of the STP's Asia section on Monday. "Her health has deteriorated again in prison."

Authorities say the human rights activist was arrested for "illegal activities," claiming she had violated the terms of her release. "Her latest arrest is purely arbitrary and has the sole purpose of demoralizing Mao Hengfeng and her family," criticized Delius. Following her release last week, the human rights activist left her home only once, to have dinner with friends. "Our house was under police surveillance 24 hours a day," reported her husband, Wu Xuewuei. "How could she have committed a crime during those two days?"

Her house was surrounded by 30 police officers when Mao Hengfeng was arrested again on February 24 and taken to an undisclosed location. "There has been no trace of her since," said Delius. The human rights activist had been released because she suffered from high blood pressure and from the consequences of the torture she had been subjected to in prison. More than a dozen times in the Anhui women's prison camp, she was beaten by fellow prisoners under orders from the guards. The results included a serious concussion and partial paralysis.

As a mother of three, Mao Hengfeng lost her job due to her protests against China's one-child policy and since 2004 has spent several years in work camps and prisons. She was also forcibly admitted to psychiatric facilities and drugged to induce miscarriages. She gave birth to her third child in spite of all these measures, but the injections forced on her during the pregnancy have left the baby with serious health problems.