China Continues to Lock Up Activists in Psychiatric Facilities

The national mental health law—a reportedly much-heralded law in 2013—was supposed to put an end to a barbaric practice in China: the locking up of critics, petitioners, and the unwanted by police in psychiatric facilities better described as prisons from hell.

A new report by NGO Safeguard Defenders shows the problem persists, and there’s no protection for victims.

“Ankang,” meaning peace and good health in Chinese, has been used to describe a system where police can forcibly have people committed to institutions, most often without even an initial psychiatric evaluation performed. It started in the 1980s as special police-run custodial psychiatric facilities outside of the normal mental health system. Once inside, it is nearly impossible to leave. It persists to this day, even if the name has changed.

Some victims languish inside for years without ever having any mental health issues—because the authorities found it a convenient way to make a problematic person go away. Inside, the victims go without even the most basic protections, unlike in detention facilities or prisons.

The new report, mapping 109 institutions that have been used this way across 21 provinces, found that two-thirds of those locked up by police did not receive any initial psychiatric evaluation. Most victims identified were either dissidents or petitioners, a long-standing thorn in the side of local governments.

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Author: HP McLovincraft

Seeker of rabbit holes. Pessimist. Libertine. Contrarian. Your huckleberry. Possibly true tales of sanity-blasting horror also known as abject reality. Prepare yourself. Veteran of a thousand psychic wars. I have seen the fnords. Deplatformed on Tumblr and Twitter.

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