A teacher’s detention in a mental hospital sparked an online outcry in China – Radio Free Asia


Chinese social media users support Hunan teacher Li Tiantian, who is believed to be detained in a mental hospital after commenting on the expulsion of a journalism professor from Shanghai who encouraged her students to submit official reports about the Review Nanjing Massacre.

Li, who is currently pregnant, has been out of touch since she made a cry for help on the Weibo Moments social media platform on Sunday when officials in her hometown of Shaba in the Yongshun District of Hunan admitted her to a psychiatric ward.

“The leadership benefits when local governments do bad things,” commented Twitter user @fjv_n on Wednesday. “Anyone can get insane when the wind comes up.”

“Insane” is a satirical word used to describe the authorities’ use of psychiatric diagnosis and detention to target critics of the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

Others retweeted an open letter from writer Li Xuewen, who said Li’s disappearance caused “great outrage” on the country’s tightly controlled internet.

In the letter, Li Xuewen said Li Tiantian was likely attacked by officials from the local education bureau in Xiangxi Prefecture, Hunan, who used her support for Song Gengyi as an excuse to retaliate for a critical article she wrote in 2019 on rural education.

“She was only exercising basic citizen rights, and you actually made her disappear,” wrote Li Xuewen. “This is an abuse of public power … and needs to be rectified immediately.”

In her 2019 article, Li Tiantian wrote, “What makes me most helpless and angry is that, as teachers, while we teach students to be honest and trustworthy, we cannot tell the truth ourselves. We have become captive intellectuals “who are forced to live cautiously.”

Hunan scholar Li Ang said that Li Tiantian’s husband has not been allowed to visit her since she was sent to the Yongshun County Mental Hospital.

“She’s just an elementary Chinese teacher who loves writing poetry and is a very thoughtful person,” said Li Ang. “She turned 27 this year.”

Some social media users flocked to buy Li Tiantian’s book. Fuchs watches the moon, the poetic language used to recount some of the folk legends of their western homeland, Hunan, with an ecological touch. Her unique teaching style had earned Li the nickname “Fae Teacher” among her students, according to some comments.

Meanwhile, Twitter user @ Szhou12345 dedicated a poem to Li Tiantian using the wild grasses of western Hunan as a metaphor for her spirit.

“A small flower bloomed among the wild grass, but was trampled by a bunch of pigs,” says the poem.

Informers, denunciations

Current affairs commentator Xiang Wei said China’s education system is full of politically motivated denunciations from “informants” among both students and faculty at all levels.

“Informers have become a kind of political asset that the authorities use to strengthen their power,” said Xiang. “I remember when I was at Qianhai Elementary School in Nanshan, Shenzhen, there were a few little spies among the students.”

“They were there not just to study, but also to … observe the mood of their classmates and any psychological changes,” he said. “You would contact the teachers at regular intervals.”

The literary scholar Chen Kun said that information is an integral part of communist government.

“The communist mindset absolutely forbids further development of logical thinking, political psychology, etc. in an educational setting, so this type of information is an inherent and logical part of communism and has been from the beginning,” said Chen.

“It is a process of de-intellectualizing people and an important tool with which they can govern.”

Meanwhile, veteran attorney Ran Tong said that attorneys hoping to provide help to Song Gengyi have not been able to contact her.

“Everyone saw [the video clip]which is normal teaching, “Ran told RFA.” What it means is that ultra-lefts are everywhere now and any teacher who tells the truth is seen as a problem. “

“I could offer her legal assistance if necessary, but I can’t get hold of her right now.”

Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.


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