China Explains Detaining Woman in Coercive Abortion Case

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jan 10, 2005   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

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by Steven Ertelt Editor
January 10, 2005

Beijing, China ( — Chinese officials on Monday attempted to downplay the 21-month prison sentence and severe beating of a woman who lost her job more than a decade ago for violating Chinese population control policy. The woman was later coerced into having an abortion when promised her job back.

Mao Hengfeng’s imprisonment, subjugation to psychiatric hospitals, and the torture she has endured in a Chinese reeducation prison camp has placed a renewed focus on the human rights abuses associated with China’s one-child policy.

Hoping to sidestep the international attention and criticism Mao’s cause is causing, Chinese officials say she was sentenced to a forced labor camp not because she campaigned for years against the population control program, but because she disturbed the peace.

Government officials, in a fax to the Associated Press, claim Mao was fired in 1989 for missing 16 days of work.

Mao’s protesting at judicial offices in 2003 in an attempt to regain her job and legal rights she had been denied for over a decade was unlawful, the fax claimed.

"Mao was sentenced to reeducation because she disturbed the public order,” according to the statement, which is rare for the Chinese government to issue. "It had nothing to do with the family planning policy.”

The statement did not address the concerns raised by human rights groups and the U.S. government that Mao is being subjected to severe torture in the prison camp.

According to a New York-based human rights agency, Human Rights in China, Mao has been bound hand and foot and suspended in midair and has been repeatedly subjected to abuse and beatings.

Representative Christopher Smith, a New Jersey Republican, told a meeting of the House International Relations Committee last month that Mao’s "is the most egregious example of China’s mistreatment of women who do not comply with China’s draconian policies, but there are thousands of other victims.”

"The torture of Mao Hengfeng demonstrates that China’s drive to control its population growth at any cost to the Chinese people is as strong and dangerous as ever," Smith added.