A Kenosha resident spoke frankly about the tensions in her community during a town hall event former Vice President and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden hosted for members of the community Thursday after the police shooting of Jacob Blake, who was left partially paralyzed. The resident, Porsche Bennett, said she was “told to go off” a piece of paper during the question and answer session with Biden and the community.
“I’m just going to be honest with you, Mr. Biden,” Bennett explained. “I was told to go off this paper, but I can’t. You need the truth and I am part of the truth.”
She continued, “I was born here, raised here, first eighth-grade class after the school that was named after his mother, so I have to give you the truth of the people and the truth of the matter is we are heavily angry. Not angry as to where ‘oh, they’re protesting,’ there’s a difference between a protestor and a rioter, a very big difference. We protest to get our voices heard, we protest to show that not just Blacks are tired of what’s going on…”
The change that needs to be made in the community “has to be more an effect, she said, adding “but we have yet to see action.” The 31-year-old mother expressed concern about her children’s’ future and the future of her community.
“I speak for the people in this city because I live in this city and I’m out here with these people,” Bennett said. “A lot of people won’t tell the truth, but I’m telling the truth. It’s not what a lot of people think it is for us. We want the same exact rights as others.”
“We want the same treatment… We’re not saying ‘oh, we matter more than anybody.’ None of that, but for so many decades, we’ve been shown we don’t matter. And right now we just want someone who’s just going to show and put that action in.”
She also described the community she’s known for her community, which she’s been an integral member of her whole life. She said the Black community there suffers because of issues like employment racism and gentrification. “It didn’t just start with Jacob,” she stated passionately.
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REPORT: China uses psychiatric institutions to suppress dissent
China has a vast network of psychiatric institutions that it uses to suppress dissent, according to a recent report by Safeguard Defenders, an NGO that focuses on human rights violations in China and other Asian countries. The report compiled data found on 99 victims involved in 144 instances on involuntary hospitalizations in 109 institutions from 2015 through 2021. Of the 99 victims in the report, 80 were petitioners [i.e., those who file complaints against officials] and 14 were activists.
But this is hardly a new phenomenon. “China’s regime has been torturing, maiming, and killing dissidents and others in psychiatric facilities for seven decades,” said Gordon G. Chang, author of The Coming Collapse of China and The Great U.S.-China Tech War. “The only way to end the horrific abuse is to end the rule of the Communist Party.”
The report detailed especially harsh treatments, which include: forced medication (in 77 percent of cases), physical restraints on the bed (60 percent), beatings by staff or other patients (25 percent) and electroshock therapy (14 percent). Otherwise normally healthy people were given anti-psychotic and psychotropic medications, causing severe side effects like memory loss, insomnia and tremors. Electroshock therapy was often administered to the victims as they were fully conscious, rather than under anesthesia in small doses as would be clinically appropriate for certain patients. According to the report, “[Electroshock therapy] without anesthesia is not only unimaginably painful and frightening for the patient but carries serious side effects, including the risk of bone fractures, joint dislocation, muscle tears, disruption of the heart beat and lung damage.”
Family and friends are often used as weapons against the victims. They were not permitted to call or visit the victims in 76 percent of cases, which essentially makes these cases “enforced disappearances.” 11 percent of cases were committed with the assistance of family (either voluntarily or coerced by authorities). Family and friends who petition for the victim’s release are often faced with persecution, and involuntarily commitment themselves.
The peak of psychiatric detentions occurred from 2015 through 2016, which was around the same time as China’s “709 Crackdown” where the government persecuted hundreds of human rights lawyers.
Some of the detentions are rather draconian. As a petitioner who called for local authorities to investigate a robbery in his house, Zeng Jiping was detained for almost two years. For “live tweeting herself splashing paint over a portrait of Xi Jinping,” Dong Yaoqiong received 1 year, 4 months detention. Twenty-nine out of the 99 victims in the report were hospitalized more than once. In two-thirds of cases where data was known, the authorities did not perform a psychiatric evaluation, in direct violation of China’s Mental Health Law.
The report also gives the example of Andy Li, a member of the “Hong Kong 12” pro-democracy protestors, as falling victim to involuntary detention in Hong Kong’ Siu Lam Psychiatric Center in 2021. The report noted that, as Li’s family didn’t know about his detention, “Li’s cases appears to be a worrying sign that the political abuse of psychiatry practiced on the mainland is now being exported into Hong Kong…”
Those who are finally released from their involuntary committals face lasting physical and phycological pain, and stigma within their communities. People seeking damages for their treatment are often faced with doctors and attorneys who do not want to assist them for fear of retaliation from the government.
According to the report, China is using “peace and health asylums” and other healthcare institutions to “punish and remove activists and petitioners from society without the trouble of going through a trial.” While the report details various Chinese laws that are supposed to protect citizens from such involuntary hospitalizations, in reality Chinese authorities do not abide by these laws and the citizens are not protected. The policy of involuntary hospitalizations show the extent to which the Chinese Communist Party will go to suppress dissent.
You can follow Steve Postal on Twitter @HebraicMosaic
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