• AFP-Jiji


A Chinese activist who filmed herself defacing a poster of President Xi Jinping has published a tearful video saying she is heavily surveilled by authorities and “on the brink of collapse.”

Since taking power in 2012, Xi has put himself at the center of a personality cult and authorities have fiercely stamped out opposition from activists and other critics.

Dong Yaoqiong, now 31, live-streamed herself in 2018 splashing ink on a Xi poster in central Shanghai. The stream was viewed tens of thousands of times on Twitter.

In the latest video — the first time she has spoken out since then — Dong claims she was allocated a job in the local government upon her release from a psychiatric unit earlier this year.

Friends said she had been forcibly admitted to a psychiatric unit twice since the 2018 incident.

Authorities now heavily restrict her movements and who she is allowed to contact, a tearful Dong said in the video, posted on Twitter on Monday.

“I’d rather die, I can’t take this stifling surveillance any more — maybe I’m on the brink of collapse,” she said.

“I want to strive for my own freedom and my freedom to choose a job, to choose my own friends. Now I don’t have any freedoms at all, they are all restricted.”

The video was later deleted after authorities visited her on Tuesday morning, according to Ou Biaofeng, a Hunan-based activist who has been in regular contact with Dong.

Human rights activist Hua Yong, who has been following Dong’s case since 2018, said Dong had been confined to her hometown in central Hunan province, where she is living with her mother.

“I decided to post on Twitter now because I’m not scared of them any more. If they want to lock me up in hospital again, that’s fine, even if it’s for the rest of my life,” Dong added in the video.

“I just want to ask: What have I done wrong? Have I committed a crime?”

Twitter is blocked in China — along with a number of other social media sites such as Facebook — but many people use virtual networks to get around online restrictions.

Dong did not reply to a request for comment.

She was allowed a rare call with her father on Monday, according to Ou, after he was injured in a coal mine accident over the weekend that trapped 13 miners. Her father refused to comment.

According to Leo Lan, researcher at the NGO Chinese Human Rights Defenders, Beijing regularly uses forced psychiatric confinement to suppress dissidents.

“This is a classic example of the government taking all sorts of extreme measures to stop a dissident from speaking out,” said Lan.

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