BEIJING: A Chinese woman was held in an abandoned morgue for three years after serving hard labour for complaining about her husband's own detention, state-run media said Friday.
Chen Qingxia was guarded by sanitation workers at the facility in the northeastern province of Heilongjiang, the Global Times said.
Her difficulties began in 2003 when her husband was sentenced to "re-education through labour" for attempting to escape quarantine during a SARS epidemic.
After he was freed, his body showed bruising and his mental health deteriorated, prompting Chen to travel to Beijing to petition higher-ranking authorities about his treatment.
As a result she served 18 months in a re-education camp herself - a common punishment for would-be petitioners - and after finishing her sentence was kept in the morgue.
She was "now confined to a wheelchair and her health has severely deteriorated", the Global Times said, adding that her husband was diagnosed with schizophrenia after his release and eventually sent to a mental hospital.
Local officials had promised her compensation, the paper said.
The re-education through labour system has come under criticism in recent months and state media quoted a senior legal official as saying this week that it would be abolished this year.
Victims of the controversial scheme can be sentenced to up to four years by a police panel, without an open trial.
Opponents say the system, initially set up under Mao Zedong to punish mild offences, is used to silence government critics and petitioners. - AFP
AFTER banning smoking in public places, the Turkish government has gone one step further by clamping down on an ancient tradition — the hookah, or water pipe.
As of Sunday it is no longer permitted to smoke the "hubbly-bubbly" in cafes, bars or restaurants as the conservative Islamic government cracks down on use of tobacco.
In 2009 the government made it illegal to smoke in public places, but only barred use of the hookah by minors, and cafes continued to offer fruity tobacco mixes in water pipes, drawing the wrath of health authorities.
The hookah, or narghile, was very popular under the Ottoman Empire but was eclipsed by the new-fangled cigarettes under the Turkish Republic from 1923.
In recent years it has regained its popularity in big cities.
Health experts warn that its fruity flavours make users forget that they are in fact inhaling tobacco, and say that since the smoke lasts longer than a cigarette it is even more dangerous. — AFP