A report published in August by the HRD organization Safeguard Defenders revealed that more than 100 pro-democracy, human rights, and dissident activists were convicted by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), deprived of their freedom, and detained in psychiatric hospitals. 

The system known as “Ankang” is a network of psychiatric hospitals across China, administered by various government ministries and the police. Before 2012, the police could send any suspect directly, without intermediation from the judicial system. Since the reform of the CPL (Civil Procedure Law) the police have lost out, at least legally, the power to sentence suspects to psychiatric confinement and must now present the approval of a judicial court. Despite this, the Chinese legal system is extensive in scope and each ministry can issue its own regulations, so the interpretation of the law is relative. 

The legal requirements for a person to be sent for forced psychiatric treatment are: showing violent behavior and the assessment by a professional as “criminally insane behavior.” However, the regulations of the Ministry of Public Security are ambiguous regarding the application of CPL and this legal loophole allows the police to apply pretrial detention and forced psychiatric treatment to any suspect. Therefore, this has reinforced the “Ankang” system within the legal framework despite the reform of the law.

Who are the victims of the Ankang system?  

The CCP targets this psychiatric prison system mostly for petitioners, netizens, citizens who participate in street protests, and practitioners of Falun Dafa, also known as Falun Gong.

Petitioners are those people who use the government petition system known as “letters and visits,” used since Imperial China times as a means of allowing people to express their dissatisfaction with imperial officials. However, under the CCP, this system does not work to listen to Chinese people’s grievances but is instead another way to curtail citizens’ freedoms and persecute them. 

Many of these citizens are locked up in prisons or sent to psychiatric hospitals for forced treatment. Most of them are people from rural areas, without resources, so their cases are not exposed in the media or social networks and go unnoticed by the international community. 

One of the few known cases is that of Jiang Tianlu, a native of Hubei province, who has been deprived of his freedom since 2005 and has been transferred to different psychiatric hospitals. It all started when Jiang decided to use the petition system to report the death of his father at the hands of a government official. Jiang’s father initiated a claim to request the return of land that communist regime officials had expropriated, and as a result, he was beaten to death in a state office. 

Chinese internet users are also persecuted on social networks. It is dangerous to express opinions in China, especially if they concern political issues that are “sensitive” to the communist regime, such as criticism of official history, government officials, or pro-democracy. 

Chinese citizen Dong Yaoqiong, known as “the inked girl,” is a woman in her 30s who became unexpectedly famous for a live broadcast on social media. During the broadcast, Dong threw ink at a portrait of Xi Jinping, while calling him a “dictator.” Shanghai police raided her home a few days later, detained her, and sent her to a psychiatric hospital for mandatory psychological treatment.

The Truth Behind Psychiatric Treatments

The U.S. State Department conducted an investigation in 2011 into China’s Angkan system of psychiatric hospitals and concluded that human rights abuses and crimes are committed. 

In the report submitted in 2011, the State Department stated: “The regulations enabling public security officials to send a person to Ankang facilities are unclear, and detainees have no mechanism to object to allegations of mental illness made by security officials. Patients in these hospitals were allegedly medicated against their will and forcibly subjected to electroshock treatments.”

According to the Minghui Report: 20 Years of Falun Gong Persecution in China, the persecution of practitioners of the Falun Dafa spiritual discipline increased the number of Angkan hospitals and the use of psychiatric torture on dissidents and pro-democracy activists. The Minghui report revealed that CCP police used all kinds of methods to persecute Falun Gong practitioners, including violent beatings, the use of the electric chair, and other torture methods. 

The psychiatric torture of Falun Gong practitioners is one of the reasons the Angkan system was expanded and strengthened since the beginning of the persecution in 1999. The CCP leader at the time, Jiang Zemin, created a special government division for this purpose, known as the 610 Office and was primarily responsible for the persecution of Falun Gong. 

Loopholes in the CCP’s judicial system and rampant corruption among regime officials allowed countless Falun Dafa practitioners to be subjected to all manner of psychiatric torture. The use of unknown drugs and mental manipulation techniques were the most common methods employed to corrupt the will of those deprived of their freedom and force them to renounce their faith. Many cases of abduction of practitioners were hidden under absolute secrecy, relatives would walk around police stations looking for their relatives, never suspecting that the city’s psychiatric hospital had been transformed into a torture center.

Minghui.org revealed the case of a Falun Dafa practitioner, Liang Zhiqin, who was detained in 2000 and then transferred to an Ankang system hospital in Tangshan.  At that hospital, she was injected with unknown drugs that caused her pain for a long time, as well as palpitations, stiff tongue, difficulty walking, stress, confusion, memory loss, and mental deterioration. Finally, Liang had two strokes.

Another case is that of Falun Dafa practitioner Zhang Jinian, a middle-aged woman, who was sent to an Ankang hospital in Xi’an in September 2002. She was subjected to psychiatric treatment with unknown drugs, became paralyzed, and lost consciousness. She was released when there was no more hope for her recovery and she died a few years later in 2008.

It should be noted that since the Chinese Communist Party was established, it has been perfecting its cruel methods until it became an expert in applying torture to anyone who thinks differently or dares to believe in God, completely ignoring divine justice.

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