Chinese human rights lawyer Li Chunfu showed signs of mental disturbance after he was released from jail.
Chunfu constantly asked in fear if the police were coming or if he would be in trouble. At one time, he begged a friend, “Please, keep an eye on what they do to me!”
His friends brought him to a clinic and found out he was displaying symptoms of schizophrenia, according to China Change, a website that focuses on news about human rights, civil society and the rule of law in China.
Chunfu is known for representing 200 miners who sought protection and safety for their work. He also represented Falun Gong members, who are among the persecuted minority groups in the country.
Chunfu is the younger brother of Christian lawyer Li Heping, who represented members of house churches. Heping was arrested on July 2015, while Chunfu was placed under house arrest on Aug. 1, 2015. He was arrested on Jan. 8, 2016 and released on Jan. 12, 2017, according to Asia News.
His sister-in-law Wang Qiaoling, the wife of Heping, said the police did not bring Chunfu home. Instead, they called his wife and told her to fetch him at a police station at Jiaowang Village, Tongzhou District. However, the police warned her not to tell anyone about it.
Qiaoling said she and other friends visited him at home when he was released. However, he did not seem to be the same brother-in-law she knew. Although he recognized who she was, he mumbled and could not speak coherently.
He appeared to be constantly suspicious of people, including his wife, whom he accused of hiding something from him. He was also constantly afraid and felt like he was being watched.
He also seemed to have an impaired sense of judgment. When Qiaoling asked him if he had called his parents since he went out of prison, he paused for a while and said, “How could I have forgotten that?”
“Last night he was saying that he felt like insects were biting his body inside,” his wife said, “that his heart had been eaten away by bugs bit by bit, and there wasn’t much of it left!”
Chunfu’s disturbing behavior prompted his friends to take him to a Beijing hospital. There, they heard the words that he kept saying, such as: “Will something go wrong if we’re seen together? Are you sure?,” “Please don’t leave me alone,” and “What place is this? I hope nothing will go wrong.”
Qiaoling said she “never imagined that 18 months of jail would torment him to the point of a mental breakdown, leaving him broken and paranoid.”
She later realized that he was being drugged while in prison. When they were at the hospital, Chunfu suddenly talked about what was done to him while he was detained. He said he was given medicine every day since he was arrested.They told him it was for hypertension, even though his blood pressure was normal.
Chunfu also said he was severely tortured while at the secret detention facility.
He said he was forced to sign a confession to his crime, but he refused for fear that his brother and the other lawyers would be in greater trouble.
“Don’t tell anyone this. A lot of people will be hurt,” he told Qiaoling and his wife.
China Change expressed concern that other incarcerated rights lawyers are possibly being tortured. It recommended that investigations be carried out regarding these cases.