A woman from Nanjing wrote a letter to Chinese officials criticizing the government’s draconian epidemic-prevention measures. Her action resulted in police and community staff taking her to a psychiatric hospital.

According to Radio Free Asia, in the early morning of May 11, 2022, Ding Yan posted her open letter to the WeChat group. The police called and said that the city and district would consider her matter on the same day. Then, they decided to send her to a psychiatric hospital.

In the letter, Ding Yan mentioned the difficulties that Shanghai residents faced due to its ‘zero COVID’ policy. 

She also wrote that the people of Shanghai, China’s most prosperous city, were starving.

Ding Yan said that people had the right to freedom of speech as written in the constitution, but it was a far cry from reality. It’s because people could be easily summoned for interrogation by the police. Or they could be jailed for ‘picking quarrels and provoking trouble’ so-called crimes. 

She questioned the authorities whether they knew all these facts.

On June 6, the news that Ding Yan was mentally ill began to circulate on the Internet.

Twitter user @changchengwai cited Ding Yan’s online letter and called for online citizens’ support. The user tweeted,

“Because I care about people’s livelihood, since 2017 I have been sent to ‘brain hospital’ 11 times. I haven’t gone mad. I still care about people’s livelihood from time to time.” #DingYan

She has been detained in a psychiatric hospital in Nanjing since May 11, 2022.

Radio Free Asia has repeatedly contacted the hospital several times but to no avail.

This news outlet talked to a friend of Ding Yan. This friend revealed that Ding Yan is yet to be released. She added that even though Ding Yan was supposed to be released on June 1, there has been no news about her. She said that Ding Yan, who officials described as having “mental illness,” was a very responsible citizen interested in public affairs.

Wang Jianhong, who followed the incident, told the station that “mental illness” was just a term used by Chinese authorities against dissidents.

Radio Free Asia’s reporter contacted the Nanjing Liuhe Public Security Bureau as well as the Longchi Police Station to ask about Ding Yan’s situation.

The Nanjing Liuhe Public Security Bureau confirmed that Ding Yan was sent to a psychiatric hospital on May 11. However, he said he had no idea if Ding Yan had been released from the hospital.

Meanwhile, Longchi police station police told the reporter to leave their information, and community police would reply later.

Ding Yan is a post-80s generation. Although she has been arrested several times, she has always voiced her thoughts regarding public affairs. Before this arrest, she had previously been imprisoned for ten days in April.

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