Monday, August 26, 2002
The Evil Empire, Part II: I'm still boycotting Chinese-made products, and this article demonstrates some of the reasons why.
The police officer was on the run. Like others in the banned Falun Gong spiritual movement, Fang Lihong had been fired, imprisoned and forced to attend months of intense "deprogramming" classes. Unlike most, he was then committed to a psychiatric hospital -- but he escaped.
"I was terrified," Fang said last year during an interview at a seedy tavern in central China. "I'm not mentally ill, but I was trapped with the other patients for 16 months."
At first, he said, doctors at the Kangning Psychiatric Hospital in the northern city of Anshan forced him to take medication. Later, they let him take the pills to his room and discard them, Fang said. The doctors told him they knew he was sane but were under orders from his superiors in the police department to "treat" him anyway, he said.
During the 45-minute interview, Fang spoke clearly and appeared rational. Afterward, he slipped out a side door and went back into hiding. In February, according to Falun Gong officials in the United States, police caught him in southern Fujian province and he died in their custody, apparently from physical abuse. A doctor at Kangning confirmed the mental hospital had treated Fang and had been informed of his death, but he declined to discuss the case further.
I must confess I don't understand why the same sort of outrage in this country that was directed against apartheid in South Africa during the '80s isn't mustered against the Chinese for their treatment of the Falun Gong and Christians. (Christians are treated the same way as Falun Gong in China, but it's not nearly as trendy to decry the treatment of Christians in the American media.)
Christians experience so little persecution in the United States, that few have an appreciation of what others with the same beliefs go through in other countries, like China.
The good news is that the World Psychiatric Association is raising a ruckus about the practice of putting perfectly sane into mental hospitals for their religious beliefs.
While I wish the WPA all the best, I suspect that they're looking to treat a symptom and not the disease -- the Chinese government. In China, the solution may be little more than opening their mental hospitals to inspection -- right after they've executed all of their "problem" cases.