2017-03-31 13:22:12

Last year Liu Yuzhan, 64, was taken to a hospital 220 kilometers from her home and locked in a psychiatric ward against her will.

The men who drove her there were her son and grandson, who had kidnapped her so they could strike up the more than 800,000 yuan ($116,000) in compensation she received for the family’s land being requisitioned in a village near Xianyang, a city in northwestern China’s Shaanxi province.

In December 2016, the son was sentenced to nine months in prison, and the grandson was sentenced to eight months with a one-year suspension. Liu’s daughter has now sued the hospital, local newspaper Chinese Business View reported on Thursday.

The ordeal began earlier in 2016, when Liu’s son claimed the compensation money for himself and Liu filed a lawsuit against both him and the local community office that had given the compensation money to him without her approval.

But on March 28, 2016 — almost two weeks before the date of the hearing — Liu went to a local police station to report that her son was threatening to send her to a mental hospital. Shortly after leaving the station, she was dragged into a waiting vehicle, bound and gagged, and driven to a hospital in Yang County, in a distant part of the province.

Though Liu insisted she was not mentally ill, a doctor surnamed Bai nevertheless admitted her to the hospital. Bai told Chinese Business View in an earlier report that Liu’s son had wanted a medical certificate attesting to his mother’s mental illness. The doctor agreed and wrote a “simple diagnosis document” — something he “didn’t think much about” at the time.

Liu was treated with pills and injections, and after two days had a chance to call her daughter, who later reported the situation to the Yang County health bureau and managed to get her mother released from the hospital. A hospital in the provincial capital, Xi’an, later examined Liu and concluded that she showed no signs of mental illnesses.

Sending healthy people to psychiatric care facilities is a common tactic for getting rid of “troublesome individuals” — and one that has even been applied by local governments. In 2007, a police officer in northern China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region who had been petitioning the government for years was forced to undergo treatment at a mental health hospital for 43 days. His family members were not informed of his whereabouts, and he was only discharged after he managed to phone his brother.

In 2008 Wu Chunxia, a woman from Henan province in central China, was detained by police during a courtroom custody battle for her son. She was locked up for 10 days and later “treated” at a mental health hospital for more than four months. In 2013, she won a lawsuit against the hospital and received around 150,000 yuan in compensation.

Editor: Kevin Schoenmakers.

(Header image: Cui Genyuan/IC)