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Chinese Political Prisoner Releases Taped Appeal - 2002-05-31

One of China's longest-serving political prisoners has released a tape from the psychiatric hospital where he has been held for almost 10 years. The tape sheds light on Chinese dissidents being held in mental health facilities.

Wang Wanxing was arrested in 1992 trying to unfurl a protest banner at Beijing's Tiananmen Square. Dominique Muller, a researcher for the rights group Amnesty International says Wang Wanxing was commemorating the pro-democracy movement that Beijing crushed in the square on June 4, 1989. "And he was taken away and detained in Ankang Public Security Hospital, which is actually managed by the Beijing Public Security Bureau," she said. "He was taken there in 1992, and he has been held there pretty much ever since."

In an 80-minute tape obtained by VOA, Wang Wanxing says he is not suffering from any mental illness. In the amateur-quality recording, that is at times hard to understand, he pleads for his release so he can rejoin his family and society.

Mr. Wang says he made the recording during a one-week release in February, just before President Bush's visit to China. He says he has been imprisoned in the hospital for almost 10 years.

Mr. Wang says police imposed conditions on his release. He could not listen to foreign radio or television and he could not grant interviews to reporters. He says police did not forbid him from making a tape, so that is what he is doing to try win his freedom.

Ms. Muller of Amnesty International says Chinese authorities have told Mr. Wang's wife that he suffers from an illness called political monomania. "Unfortunately, the condition of political monomania doesn't appear in any medical literature," she said. "It's not defined by the World Health Organization as an illness."

However, according to Amnesty International's information, there's absolutely no evidence that Wang Wanxing has any form of mental illness.

Ms. Muller says there is little information about how many other dissidents are confined in Chinese psychiatric institutions. But she says her group has documented other such cases, such as Cao Maobing, who was held in a psychiatric hospital for six months last year. "He was actually taken into hospital after he tried to organize some workers in a factory in Jiangsu to protest against corrupt factory leaders," said Dominique Muller.

Ms. Muller says there was no evidence that Mr. Cao suffered from any mental illness.