By BosNewsLife Asia Service
BEIJING, CHINA (BosNewsLife)– A Christian woman who has campaigned against China’s strict one-child policy, remained in a labor camp Friday, November 23, after she was sentenced to 18 months “re-education through labor” for the third time, her husband and fellow Christians said.
House Church Christian Mao Hengfeng, 50, was seized in the capital Beijing by officials on September 20 after petitioning authorities for rights abuses she suffered during her previous labor camp sentences, including torture, her husband, Wu Xuewei, told reporters.
Mao, who lives in Shanghai and has three daughters, has been petitioning the government since she was fired in 1988 from her job at a soap factory after becoming pregnant a second time, in violation of China’s controversial one-child policy.
Despite an aging population, Bejing maintains the policy is necessary to avoid having to feed and cloth millions of additional people in a nation with already 1.3 billion people.
One of China’s most famous dissidents, the blind legal activist Chen Guangcheng, has campaigned against forced abortions connected with the measures.
Mao was last sentenced in February 2011 to a labor camp for conducting “illegal activities”. In 2010, she was sentenced to one and a half years of “re-education through labor” on charges of “disturbing the public order” for a protest at the trial of jailed 2010 Nobel Laureate Liu Xiaobo.
She was released six months early from a labor camp in Anhui province because of poor health, Wu said, adding that he is worried about Mao because of her high blood pressure. Mao, who is among millions of devoted house church Christians, was often tortured and beaten by inmates and on several occassions prevented of going to church, according to international rights group Amnesty International and other sources.
Labor camp sentences have also handed down to others who joined Hengfeng in seeking redress from the Communist government, Christian rights activists say.
Recently petitioners disappeared leading to the November 8 opening of the 18th Party Congress, according to Christians with close knowledge about the situation.
“HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES”
Bob Fu, a former Chinese house church pastor and current president of advocacy group China Aid Association, expressed “grave concern” for these “political detainees” and others who he says suffer “human rights abuses” at the hands of the China’s government.
Fu has urged the international community to urge China to use the outcome of the recent Communist Party Congress to improve human rights, the rule of law and freedom of religion in the Communist-ruled nation.
Xi Jinping, 59, was elected at that gathering as China’s new leader after being confirmed as general secretary of the ruling Communist Party.
He is on record as calling Sino-US relations an “unstoppable river that keeps surging ahead”, emphasizing that a prosperous China was “a positive force for global peace”, but did not address international concerns over his country’s human rights record.
(With additional reporting by Joseph DeCaro, BosNewsLife International Correspondent).