SHANGHAI (Reuters) - One of five Chinese women activists whose detention last month sparked an outcry said she was interrogated and verbally abused by police for eight hours on Friday, a little over a week after being released on bail.
In a written statement, Wu Rongrong said she was questioned in a hotel room in the eastern city of Hangzhou from about 2 p.m. until 10 p.m. about her case, leaving her in “near collapse ... helpless and terrified”.
“I’m very tired,” Wu told Reuters in a text message on Saturday. “I was supposed to speak to them again today but they haven’t called me yet. From yesterday until today I’ve only slept a fitful three hours.”
Wu, Wei Tingting, Wang Man, Zheng Churan and Li Tingting were taken into custody on the weekend of March 8, International Women’s Day, and detained on suspicion of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble”. They had planned to demonstrate against sexual harassment on public transport.
President Xi Jinping’s administration has detained hundreds of rights activists in the past two years in what some rights groups say is the worst clampdown on dissent in the Communist-led and world’s most populous country for two decades.
Dozens of students and workers signed petitions and held slogans calling for the release of the five women activists.
U.S. Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State John Kerry did the same, prompting the Chinese Foreign Ministry to lodge a formal protest with Washington. The European Union also expressed concern.
The authorities released the women on bail on April 14, although they were still considered suspects and another lawyer said at the time their freedom would be restricted.[ID:nL4N0XA47F]
Wu said police verbally attacked her during the questioning, calling her self-centred, ungrateful and a disgrace to social workers.
Lu Zhoubin, her lawyer, said the interrogation was conducted by police from the Haidian district of Beijing even though Wu, 30, lives in Hangzhou.
There was no immediate comment from the Haidian police after phone calls to three offices.
Reporting by John Ruwitch and Sui-Lee Wee in Beijing; Editing by Mark Heinrich