China: Ongoing arbitrary detention of Ms. Mao Hengfeng

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Originally published in World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) on October 29, 2012


CHN 002 / 1012 / OBS 097

Arbitrary detention /

Ongoing harassment

People’s Republic of China

October 29, 2012

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), requests your urgent intervention on the following situation in the People’s Republic of China.

New information:

The Observatory has been informed by Chinese Human Rights Defenders (CHRD) of the ongoing arbitrary detention since September 30 of Ms. Mao Hengfeng, a Shanghai activist who has been active in defending the right to housing and opposing forced evictions as well as in promoting women’s reproductive rights.

According to the information received, as of issuing this Urgent Appeal, Ms. Mao Hengfeng remained detained at Yangpu District Police Detention Centre in Shanghai, on suspicion of “gathering a crowd to disrupt public order” under Article 291 of the Chinese Criminal Code. Moreover, her family members have not yet been allowed to visit her and while some of them are currently making arrangements to find a lawyer, it is feared that the latter will not be allowed to visit her neither.

Reportedly, Ms. Mao Hengfeng was taken away in Beijing by two men in plain clothes believed to be Shanghai police officers on September 30. She was subsequently taken from Beijing to Shanghai. The Notification of Criminal Detention received by her husband did not mention when Ms. Mao was arrested in Beijing nor when she was brought back to Shanghai.

The Observatory expresses its deep concern about Ms. Mao Hengfeng’s detention, which is believed to be aimed at preventing her from carrying out campaigning work during the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party scheduled to convene on November 8, and fears for her physical and psychological integrity. Accordingly, the Observatory calls upon the Chinese authorities to take prompt action in order to immediately and unconditionally release Ms. Mao Hengfeng, and to put an end to the harassment against her, which seem to merely aim at sanctioning her human rights activities.

Background information:

The Observatory recalls that Ms. Mao Hengfeng has been detained several times and subjected to ill-treatment in the past years due to her human rights activities.

On February 23, 2010, Ms. Mao Hengfeng was arrested at her hotel in Beijing by Beijing and Shanghai police officers and placed under administrative detention for ten days for “disturbing social order”. She was arrested and detained because of the slogans she shouted outside the Beijing Municipal No. 1 Intermediate People’s Court on December 25, 2009 to denounce the arbitrary sentencing of Mr. Liu Xiaobo, a prominent human rights activist and scholar, co-author of the “Charter 08”, a petition calling for political reforms and the protection of human rights in the People’s Republic of China.

On March 4, 2010, Ms. Mao was ordered by the Shanghai Municipal Committee for the Management of Re-education Through Labour (RTL) to serve one and a half year of RTL. While detained at the Anhui RTL facility, Ms. Mao was subjected to ill-treatments, including beatings by the RTL guards and by the persons in charge of the facility.

On February 22, 2011, Ms. Mao Hengfeng was granted medical parole because of her very high blood pressure.

Yet, on the morning of February 23, 2011, more than ten police officers blocked the entrance of her home and did not allow her to leave. The police officers stayed in front of the house until February 24, 2011, when the Head of the Anhui RTL facility, along with a dozen Shanghai and Anhui police officers, entered Ms. Mao’s home and took her away and announced that her medical parole had been rescinded[1]. It is not until June 9, 2011 that Ms. Mao’s husband received official notice regarding Ms. Mao’s whereabouts, when he was informed that she had been kept in the Shanghai prison general hospital from February 24 for treatment of her high blood pressure.

On July 28, 2011, Ms. Mao was released from RTL, one month before the completion of her 18-month RTL order. The decision to release her early was based on the prison hospital’s suggestion that she get hospital treatment outside of prison.

Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities in the People’s Republic of China, urging them to:

i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Ms. Mao Hengfeng;

ii. Release Ms. Mao Hengfeng immediately and unconditionally since her detention is arbitrary as it seems to only aim at sanctioning her human rights activities;

iii. In the meantime, guarantee unconditional access to her lawyer and family;

iv. Put an end to all forms of harassment, including at the judicial level, against Ms. Mao Hengfeng as well as against all human rights defenders in China;

v. Conform with the provisions of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 9, 1998, especially its Article 1, which states that “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to promote and to strive for the protection and realisation of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels”, and Article 12.2, which provides that “the State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration”;

vi. Ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rights standards and international instruments ratified by the People’s Republic of China.


  • Mr. Wen Jiabao, Prime Minister of the People’s Republic of China, Guojia Zongli, The State Council General Office, 2 Fuyoujie, Xichengqu, Beijingshi 100017, People’s Republic of China, Fax: +86 10 65961109 (c/o Ministry of Foreign Affairs
  • Ms. Wu Aiying, Minister of Justice of the People’s Republic of China, Buzhang Sifabu, 10 Chaoyangmen Nandajie, Chaoyangqu, Beijingshi 100020, People’s Republic of China, Fax: +86 10 6529 2345, /
  • Mr. Dai Bingguo, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China, Buzhang Waijiaobu, 2 Chaoyangmen Nandajie, Beijingshi 100701, People’s Republic of China, Fax: +86 10 6588 2594, Email:
  • Chief of the Public Security Bureau, Yangpu Branch, Shanghai Municipal, Cai Tian Juzhang, No. 2049 Pingliang Road, Yangpuqu, Shanghai, 200090, People’s Republic of China. Fax: +86 22 170130. Email:
  • Chief of the Public Security Bureau, Shanghai Municipal, Zhang Xuebing Juzhang, No.128 Wuning South Road, Jing’an, Shanghai, 200042, People’s Republic of China. Fax: +86 24 062676. Email:
    • Ambassador He Yafei, Permanent Mission of the People’s Republic of China, Chemin de Surville 11, P.O. Box 85, 1213 Petit-Lancy 2, Geneva, Switzerland, Fax: +41 22 7937014, E-mail:
    • Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in Brussels, Avenue de Tervuren, 463 1160 Auderghem, Belgium, Tel: + 32 2 663 30 10 / + 32 2 663 30 17 / +32 2 771 14 97 / +32 2 779 43 33; Fax: +32 2 762 99 66 / +32 2 779 28 95; Email:

Please also write to the diplomatic mission or embassy of the People’s Republic of China in your respective country.



Geneva-Paris, October 29, 2012

Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.

The Observatory, a OMCT and FIDH venture, is dedicated to the protection of Human Rights Defenders and aims to offer them concrete support in their time of need.

To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:

  • E-mail:
  • Tel and fax OMCT + 41 (0) 22 809 49 39 / + 41 22 809 49 29
  • Tel and fax FIDH + 33 (0) 1 43 55 25 18 / +33 1 43 55 18 80

[1] The Anhui RTL facility authorities cited Ms. Mao Hengfeng’s “illegal activities inconsistent with [the stipulations of] medical parole” as the basis of the decision, but did not specify what those activities were.

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