Date
17 October 2018
Li Chunfu before his arrest (upper inset) and after his release on bail last week (lower inset). Li was among the hundreds of lawyers and activists detained by Chinese authorities in a July 2015 crackdown. Photos: HKEJ, www.rfa.org, Twitter
Li Chunfu before his arrest (upper inset) and after his release on bail last week (lower inset). Li was among the hundreds of lawyers and activists detained by Chinese authorities in a July 2015 crackdown. Photos: HKEJ, www.rfa.org, Twitter

China civil rights lawyer suffering mental disorders after jail

A Chinese civil rights lawyer is said to have suffered serious damage to his health, both physical and mental, after he was held in a prison by mainland authorities for more than 500 days.

Li Chunfu, who was released on bail last week in Beijing, needs to be hospitalized as the jail ordeal has made him emaciated and also left him with some mental disorders, his family says.

Family members, accompanied by several lawyers, took Li to a hospital for physical examination on Saturday, only to be told that the activist was suffering from schizophrenia, Apple Daily reports.

According to Li’s sister-in-law, the civil rights campaigner used to be full of vigor and vitality earlier, but now he is barely recognizable after he was held for 530 days in a prison.

Li has become very skinny, having lost as much as 20 kilograms in weight during his time in jail, and looks like man in his 60s even though he is just 44, the sister-in-law was quoted as saying.

Li was granted bail last Thursday after being held in jail without trial.

The activist went missing in August 2015. In January last year, police announced that he had been arrested on suspicion of subversive activities.

Li was among hundreds of lawyers and activists who were detained, arrested or questioned by the authorities in a massive crackdown against civil rights activists that began on July 9, 2015, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.

Following his release last week, family members lamented that Li’s life has been totally destroyed and that he is no longer the same person.

Due to the long period in jail, during which Li may have been subjected to brutal interrogation, he developed some mental disorders, according to the family.

Among other things, Li has become a suspicious person. He is said to have beaten his wife from time to time since he was released.

Seeing the after-effects of jail on Li, his sister-in-law said she is now very worried about her own husband, a lawyer who was arrested along with Li during the crackdown and has been detained since under the same charge.

Radio Free Asia cited one of Li’s friends, also a lawyer, as saying that Li, given his current mental status, is unable to tell others what exactly happened to him during his time in detention.

The activist has now become a person who is highly agitated and fearful, the friend said.

The lawyer alleged that authorities may be deliberately aiming to drive targeted activists crazy through detention or surveillance so that they will not be capable of filing lawsuits or taking other actions afterwards.

It was known that Li’s wife was told to keep her mouth shut and not reveal any information about her husband’s situation.

That is why not too many details have emerged until now about Li’s fate, Radio Free Asia noted.

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TL/AC/RC

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