Internet post frees man confined 14 years in mental hospital

23:21, January 07, 2011      

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It sounds like another story of a citizen being victimized for exposing misbehavior of officials and saved by the power of the Internet, as a controversial post freed a man who was confined to a mental hospital for nearly 14 years for alleged muckraking.

The Internet post, entitled "Help! My father was confined in mental hospital for 14 years", by Guo Hanyun, appeared Saturday on a bulletin board, China's hottest online community.

Guo said her father, Guo Yuanrong, was sent to the DMC Maojian Hospital in Shiyan city of central China's Hubei Province 14 years ago after he exposed corruption by his leader in the Construction Bureau of Zhuxi County in the province.

Guo's family tried many times to bring him home from the mental hospital but failed without approval from the county's public security bureau, according to the post.

The internet posting immediately caught the attention of hundreds of thousands of netizens, apparently because the poster, Guo Hanyun, said she would like to marry or "serve as a slave" to whoever can end her father's ordeal.

Within just a few days, the post received more than 350,000 hits and about 6,200 replies.

The media quickly followed in to report on the case, too.

Three days after the post was put online, Guo Yuanrong, 50, was discharged from the hospital and brought home by his brother.


It initially seemed like a triumph of the righteous muckraker and netizens who cared about the man. However, the government has had its own say.

The Public Security Bureau of Zhuxi County insisted that Guo had mental diseases and the decision to confine him in the mental hospital was justified.

At the bureau's office, Xinhua reporters were shown four stacks of documents about Guo's case.

Deputy director of the bureau, Li Yingdong, told reporters what the public did not know about Guo was his misbehavior of slandering the county's leaders in the 1990s.

Guo kept harassing the county's senior officials by sending letters, telegraphs, petitions and ultimatums, and threatening arson or murder should those officials not be sacked, Li said.

In 1996, the Public Security Bureau of Zhuxi County summoned and questioned Guo, and found nearly 300 petition letters and telegraphs at his home and office.

Police decided that Guo developed mental problems after he was divorced in 1994.

Also, psychiatric expert testimony verified the judgment, concluding that Guo suffered from paranoid schizophrenia and was not responsible for his own behavior.

In November 1996, Guo was sent by the public security bureau to the mental hospital to receive compulsory treatment.

During the years between 1997 and 1998, Guo was discharged from the hospital twice but sent back again as he continued slandering others.

Guo's younger sister, Guo Qiaoyun, confessed that she could not understand her brother and described his behavior as "inconceivable".

Guo said it was wrong for the government to confine him in a mental hospital, but Li Yingdong insisted that the decision was made in strict accordance with the law.

The 18th article of China's Criminal Law reads: "A mentally ill person who causes dangerous consequences at a time when he is unable to recognize or unable to control his own conduct is not to bear criminal responsibility after being established through accreditation of legal procedures...When necessary, he will be given compulsory medical treatment by the government."


Further, Guo Hanyun, the so-called "daughter" of Guo Yuanrong, proved to be a made-up figure aimed at attracting public attention with dramatic words.

Yuan Baoquan and Chen Yonggang, two netizens from the Shiyan city, were the real authors behind the entire story.

Chen was detained for eight days in February last year for allegedly defaming a government official in Yunxi County.

Peng, himself, was held in the same mental hospital in April last year for taking part in petition activities.

Peng was discharged five days later, after his case was exposed on the Internet.

During his short stay in the hospital, Peng met with Guo and thought he, like himself, was a normal man who was victimized.

Peng and Chen decided to help Guo get out of the mental hospital and spent half a year collecting information about him.

They earlier put up on the Internet a posting telling the story of Guo, but received little attention.

The duo then came upon the idea of making up a story about a daughter sacrificing herself for her father.

"Exposure on the Internet needs techniques," said Chen Yonggang. "We, ourselves, were moved by the story, which proved to be a success. Guo was discharged three days later."

Netizens showed mixed feelings towards the post, however.

"It is sad that people have to resort to abnormal ways to solve their disputes," said a netizen named "Xuan Huahua".

Netizen "International Line" said exposure online should be based on facts, otherwise fabricated stunts would only lead to mistrust of the Internet, as it takes advantage of people's sympathies.

Huang Xuetao, a Shenzhen-based pro bono lawyer, said diagnosis of mental patients and their treatment in mental hospitals should be written into laws in detail.

"Mental patients should be carefully dealt with through due process of law and judicial remedy to ensure that their rights are not infringed upon", Huang told Xinhua in a telephone interview.

Source: Xinhua
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