Your complaint will be resolved – by force-feeding you drugs

AUTHORITIES in eastern China have a new way to deal with residents who complain: checking them into a mental hospital and force-feeding them drugs, it was reported yesterday.

Authorities in Xintai, a municipal region in Shandong province, had forced at least 18 people with grievances, ranging from police brutality to property disputes, into a mental hospital, the Beijing News said.

Chinese residents with complaints directed at local governments often travel to "petitions and appeals" offices (also called "letters and visits" offices) in provincial capitals and in Beijing after they have failed to resolve the problem through lower channels.

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Sun Fawu, 57, a retired miner from Dagouqiao village, was force-fed drugs and given injections during more than 20 days at the Xintai mental hospital in October, the paper said.

"My head was always dizzy and I could not stay up," Mr Sun said. He had asked for compensation over spoiled farmland caused by coal mining.

He was released only after signing a document saying he was mentally ill and "would not petition again".

Checking petitioners into the hospital was in part economics, an official said, as cash-strapped local governments could ill afford to send them to Beijing.

"Every time we have to send three or five people to Beijing, and pay their food and accommodation, it's not a matter of pennies," the paper quoted one official, Chen Jaifa, as saying.

An Shizhi, head of the letters and visits office in Xintai's Quangou township, said officials were under pressure to keep petitioner numbers down.

"If petitioners bypass local authorities, the head of both the (Communist] party and government get punished," he said.

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