Ankang Psychiatric Hospitals Facilitate Torture of Falun Gong Practitioners
(Minghui.org) Ankang hospitals—high-security psychiatric hospitals administered directly by the Chinese Ministry of Public Security—have been noted as places of abuse in the U.S. Department of State's annual human rights country reports for China for the past several years.
Psychiatric abuse is very commonly used on prisoners of conscience, including Falun Gong practitioners, in China. Jiang Tianyong, a renowned human rights lawyer who ran afoul of the Chinese communist regime, was given unknown drugs against his will while he was held in one such hospital. Xie Yanyi, another lawyer in Beijing, said that almost all the human rights lawyers arrested on July 9, 2015 (known as the “709 Incident,” in which more than a hundred human rights lawyers and activists were targeted by the authorities on that day) had been given unknown drugs. Xie was drugged for nearly two months.
For Falun Gong practitioners, the persecution is even more severe and secretive. A survey conducted by the World Organization to Investigate the Persecution of Falun Gong (WOIPFG) found that 83% of mental hospitals in China had admitted Falun Gong practitioners and forcibly administered psychiatric drugs. The administrators at the majority of those hospitals acknowledged that they knew that the detained practitioners were not suffering from mental illness, but were told to detain them anyway.
The situation could be much worse in Ankang hospitals, because these hospitals are administrated by the police. Dozens of such hospitals exist in China, and they have been heavily involved in the persecution of Falun Gong since its inception in July 1999. According to internal communist party documents, “drugs can be used to force practitioners to give up their belief.”
The cases documented below involve the abuse of practitioners in Ankang facilities.
Injections of Unknown Drugs
In the name of “psychiatric therapy,” officials and medical professionals in Ankang hospitals inject nerve-damaging drugs, apply electric needles, force-feed, beat, and restrain Falun Gong practitioners on iron chairs to try to force them to give up their belief. Drugs injection is the worst of these tortures. It is not only extremely painful but can also lead to mental disorder or death.
In one case, a number of practitioners, including Ms. Liang Zhiqin, were arrested in the fall of 2000 and taken to the Ankang hospital in Tangshan, where they were injected with unknown drugs. These practitioners said they were in pain for a long time with symptoms such as heart discomfort, a stiff tongue, difficulty walking, stress, confusion, memory loss, and mental impairment. Ms. Liang suffered from heart failure and two strokes after the drug administration. Ms. Shao Liyan developed a mental disorder. Ms. Li Fengzhen lost her memory, became emaciated, and could not take care of herself. Ms. Ni Yingqin was disabled for nearly three years and died in 2009.
After being sent to the Ankang hospital in Xi'an in September 2002, Ms. Zhang Jinlan became paralyzed and lost consciousness. Because her condition was life-threatening, hospital officials released her. She lived in physical misery until she died in 2008.
Regular Administration of Unknown Drugs
Besides injections, other drugs were also given regularly to either intensify the torture or, in some cases, cause mental disorder to cover up previous brutalities.
Mr. Yang Baochun, a practitioner from Handan City, Hebei Province, was so badly tortured in Handan Forced Labor Camp in 2002 that his right leg had to be amputated. To shirk their responsibility, labor camp officials sent him to an Ankang hospital three times. Drugged regularly over the course of five or six years, Mr. Yang suffered a severely impaired mental state. By the time his family picked him up in 2009, his behavior was no different from a patient with advanced mental illness.
Secrecy, No Formal “Sentence” Necessary
The Wuhan Evening News reported in May 2010 that a conference hosted by the Ministry of Public Security prohibited Ankang hospitals from admitting patients other than those approved by the police. In addition, each province was required to operate at least one Ankang hospital.
This means that Ankang hospitals operate very secretively and little is known about them. Neither psychiatrists, scholars, nor lawyers who specialize in mental health know much about these facilities. Falun Gong practitioners detained in Ankang hospitals are often barred from family visits, so little is known about what goes on inside.
The forced labor camp system was abolished in China in 2013. But the persecution of Falun Gong continues and a large number of detained practitioners have been sent to brainwashing centers, mental hospitals, and prisons. Because they are under the jurisdiction of the police, Ankang hospitals have become convenient and secret places to torture practitioners. Just as with the labor camps, no formal sentence is required to send someone to an Ankang hospital. Further, in these hospitals, the use of psychiatric abuse is actually condoned.
Because the number of Ankang hospitals is limited, under orders from the 610 Office and the police, Falun Gong practitioners have also been sent to other mental hospitals for persecution. In addition, death and other injuries of practitioners have been reported as a result of being given drug-adulterated food and water while they were in police custody.