A district government in Yichun, Heilongjiang Province, has taken responsibility for the illegal detention of a woman who has been held in a deserted morgue for three years, after she had served 18 months in a re-education through labor center for petitioning, the Xinhua News Agency reported.
Zhang Yuewen, Party chief of Dailing district, said Thursday that the local government is responsible for the 10-year-long case, and promised to take care of Chen Qingxia. Zhang said Chen would be compensated in accordance with the law.
China National Radio (CNR) reported Thursday that Chen had been guarded by several sanitation workers.
Chen was held at a re-education center after she was brought back from Beijing in 2007 by local police. She had traveled to the capital to file a petition against local authorities, claiming they mistreated her husband while he was confined to a detention center.
The husband, surnamed Song, was detained at the re-education center in 2003 after he broke through a quarantined area during the SARS outbreak. He was later confined to his home after he was diagnosed with schizophrenia.
Chen told CNR she decided to lodge a petition after she saw bruises on her husband's body and he became more mentally confused after he was released from the center. "I accused them of beating him and decided to petition."
The woman is now confined to a wheelchair and her health has severely deteriorated. Her husband is now at a local mental hospital and the whereabouts of their son, Song Jide, is unknown. The then 12-year-old son was lost in Beijing in 2007 when his mother was brought back by local police.
The local sanitation department declined to answer questions from the Global Times.
Chen blamed the former director of the district's office of letters and calls, Yang Haifeng, for her son's disappearance. "We were at a bus station. My son was already on the bus and I was about to board. Yang grabbed me and wouldn't let me go and the bus drove away. Yang told me he would find my son but he never did."
Multiple phone calls to Yang's office by the Global Times went unanswered Thursday. He told CNR that when he was taking Chen into custody she told the boy to run. "There was no way we could catch him. It's her fault," Yang said.
Yang was promoted to the president of the district workers' union in 2011, a local official told the Global Times.
The head of the publicity department of the district Party committee, Li Nan, said detaining Chen in the morgue was a humanitarian move as she had nowhere to live after being released from re-education.