Authorities in China are targeting a prominent human rights activist and critic of President Xi Jinping for psychiatric treatment for a “mental illness,” Radio Free Asia (RFA) reported Monday.
Lu Qianrong, from Huoqiu county in the eastern Chinese province of Anhui, told RFA that he was visited by local government officials who interrogated him for criticism he posted online of Xi Jinping and the Chinese Communist Party.
“They said [I] often post comments that are critical of the government online, and asked if I have mental health problems and that they would get me checked out,” Lu said. “They said the government would pay, to see if I have any psychiatric problems.”
“I told them I don’t have mental health problems, and [my troubles] were caused by their persecution of me,” he continued. “They said that they were ‘worried about me’, and that I should go and get a psychiatric evaluation only if I wanted to.”
Lu, who served a three-year sentence in a labor camp in the 1990’s for exposing government corruption, added that officials later visited his wife at her workplace to encourage her to put him forward for a psychiatric evaluation while even urging her to divorce him.
“They said your man is mentally ill, and you’d be better off putting him in a mental hospital,” he explained. “They also threatened my wife, saying that if I committed murder or arson, she would be the one who died, and that she’d regret it then. Anyone else would have divorced Lu Qianrong a long time ago, they told her.”
The incident is just one of many cases of repression and intimidation against Chinese dissident, as the government seeks to clamp down on all criticism of President Xi and Communist Party Officials. There have been multiple reports of dissidents being targeted for psychiatric issues and being detained at state-run psychiatric hospitals under the country’s 2013 Mental Health Law.
The policy is known as one of “social maintenance” and involves strict monitoring of all anti-government activism, discussion and trends on social media, artistic expression, and all educational activity.
Last week, a woman from Shanghai disappeared after livestreaming herself splashing paint on a propaganda poster and expressing her opposition to “authoritarian tyranny.” She is believed to be have been detained after she uploaded images on social media of uniformed men waiting outside her house.