You’d have to be crazy to oppose an authoritarian government—or so Chinese officials want citizens of the People’s Republic to believe. Psychiatric abuses have become a regular feature of life in China, according to a report by the Hong Kong–based advocacy group Chinese Human Rights Defenders (CHRD). The abuses consist of violations of the human rights of those who are deemed to have a mental disability or psychological disorder. The CHRD’s report, “The Darkest Corners,” details such abuses as involuntary commitment to psychiatric institutions of individuals whose only “disorder” may be that they questioned in some way the doings of the Chinese government. In one case, a man who took pictures of a protest was committed to a psychiatric hospital because his actions—taking photographs—supposedly “disturbed public order.”
Dissidents in China like Jin Guanghong have been detained, force-fed medications, and prohibited from seeing family or legal counsel. An estimated 800,000 psychiatric commitments occur each year in China. Too often, the individuals committed are not mentally ill at all. Persons subjected to such abuses as involuntary commitment have little or no legal protection. Mere allegations by family members, employers, or even police officials are often enough to result in incarceration.
The CHRD is urging the Chinese government to pass a Mental Health Law—that would extend human rights protections to the mentally ill and comply with international norms. China is a signatory to the Convention on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities, which states that “persons with disabilities enjoy legal capacity on an equal basis with others in all aspects of life.” United Nations officials will be visiting China in September to evaluate the country’s compliance with the convention—shining a spotlight on China’s mental health system.
Image Credit: © China Photos/Getty Images
- Chinese Government Institutionalizes People against Their Will: Chinese Human-Rights Defenders
Read in-depth coverage of the Chinese Human Rights Defenders report alleging mental health and human rights abuses in China.
(Source: TheDailyBeast.com, August 22, 2012)
- Mental Hospitals “Abuse Rights”
Read more on the abuse of psychiatric diagnosis and detention in China.
(Source: Radio Free Asia, August 27, 2012)
- Chinese Human Rights Defenders
Visit the website of the group that reported on Chinese psychiatric abuses.
(Source: Chinese Human Rights Defenders; accessed August 31, 2012)
- “The Darkest Corners”: Abuses of Involuntary Psychiatric Commitment in China
View this gallery of images that accompanied the CHRD report.
(Source: slideshare.net, August 10, 2012)
- China Pressed to Prevent Abuse of Psychiatric Confinement
This article covers reactions to the CHRD report.
(Source: International Herald Tribune, August 23, 2012)
- Political Abuse of Psychiatry
This article provides context for the issue of China’s alleged psychiatric abuses.
(Source: Wikipedia.com; accessed August 31, 2012)