27 Jan 2013

Woman held in morgue for complaining

10:57 am on 27 January 2013

State media report in China report that a woman who petitioned the authorities over the treatment of her husband at a labour camp has been detained at a disused mortuary for the past three years.

Chen Qingxia had already served 18 months at a re-education camp for her campaign, but continued to fight and so was confined to the mortuary.

The BBC says reports of her ordeal in the province of Heilongjiang have triggered an outcry on social media.

Mrs Chen is said to be in poor health. But correspondents say that it looks likely that restrictions on her will be relaxed soon. A committee has been formed in the city of Yichun to re-examine her case.

According to the Global Times newspaper, Mrs Chen's ordeal began in 2003 when her husband was imprisoned for attempting to breach a quarantine during a SARS epidemic.

After he was freed, Mrs Chen went to Beijing to complain about the treatment he had received.

This led to her being put through a re-education camp for 18 months. After finishing the sentence, she was kept in a mortuary because she was still determined to continue her campaign.

A report on China National Radio said Mrs Chen has been allowed minimal contact with relatives.

The Global Times said her husband was eventually admitted to hospital for treatment for mental-health problems.

The Communist Party district chief has been quoted on television as saying local officials should bear responsibility for Mrs Chen's treatment.