BosNewsLife – The whereabouts of two detained “underground” Catholic Church leaders in China were unknown Saturday, November 5, overshadowing news that security forces a prominent dissident after spending 13 years in a police-run psychiatric hospital.
Catholic news agency Zenit quoted the South China Morning Post of Hong Kong as saying that the police of Wenzhou region arrested Father Wang Xhow Fa and Father P. Paulus Shao Gu Min after giving an interview to L’Espresso, an Italian weekly newspaper.
The police would not confirm if the arrests were directly related to the interview the priests gave L’Espresso, the news agency said. Both priests were jailed in the past for their church activities. Father Wang spent 15 years in a labor camp, and Father Shao Gu Min was detained for 18 months in 1999-2000, Zenit said.
Reports of their arrests came shortly after news emerged that a Chinese dissident committed to a psychiatric hospital for displaying a banner in Tiananmen Square commemorating the crushed 1989 pro-democracy demonstrations, was freed after 13 years.
The New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) said this week it has learned that Wang Wanxing, 56, was released from the police-run Ankang Hospital in August, and put on a flight to Frankfurt , Germany , to join his wife and daughter who fled China .
Wang, a Beijing worker, was arrested in Tiananmen Square on June 3, 1992, when he tried to unfurl a protest banner. He was asking the ruling Communist Party to reevaluate its condemnation of the 1989 democracy movement and to compensate him for past political persecution for criticizing the radical leaders of the Cultural Revolution.
Wang was diagnosed with paranoia when he entered Ankang, a facility run by Beijing police, but family and other independent observers have said he is lucid and stable. He was released briefly in 1999, but forced to return to Ankang after he said he might publicly discuss his confinement with foreign reporters, human rights watchers say.
HRW claimed that Wang had kind words for some of the doctors and nurses at the Beijing hospital, but described others as being “basically sadistic” in nature.
For the first seven years, Wang said he was held in a general ward with 50 to 70 inmates but was moved to one with “severely psychotically-disturbed inmates, most of whom had committed murder” during the last five years of his stay. HRW said violence among patients was frequent, and that staff used electric currents to punish difficult patients and made other inmates watch.
On another occasion Wang reportedly witnessed mistreatment of an inmate who had been arrested and admitted to the Ankang facility for persistent petitioning activities. The inmate, who had gone on a hunger strike to protest his incarceration, was allegedly being tied to a bed on the ward and force-fed by other inmates at the direct orders of the nursing staff.
“Instead of using a feeding tube inserted through his mouth or nose, the inmates simply poured liquid food straight into the man’s mouth. As a result he choked to death on the bed,” HRW reported.
Wang Wanxing is the first known released inmate of China ‘s “notorious Ankang system,” out of an estimated 3,000 or more political detainees held in police-run psychiatric custody since the early 1980s, to have left China and be in a position to speak out about his experiences, HRW said.
But Beijing Ankang officials allegedly warned him before boarding his flight to Germany never to speak his experiences or they would come and bring him back again.
His release was timed ahead of a visit to China in late August by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour, the group said.
However the arrests of church leaders and other dissidents have raised doubts about China ‘s intentions, human rights organizations claim.
China ‘s government has strongly denied human rights abuses, and claims it only cracks down on groups and individuals violating Chinese laws. The Communist government also says the country’s Constitution guarantees religious freedom to citizens.